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Thread: Does Alaska Backpacker ammo meet SAAMI specs?

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Does Alaska Backpacker ammo meet SAAMI specs?

    A search of these forums or Yahoo web search didn't turn up anything useful about this .44Mag ammo for handguns. I'd like to know more because of the following question I sent to Smith & Wesson, and their reply:

    Dear Smith & Wesson,
    I am the satisfied owner of a 329PD, which I carry while hiking and fly fishing in Alaska. ...I [read] a posting found on an Outdoors website, raising the question of safe loads for this pistol. ...am currently carrying Alaska Backpacker ammo, 320gr GC Hard Cast cartridges in .44Mag for this pistol…

    1. Will shooting this load void my warranty?
    2. Have there been "break the gun" issues with heavy factory loads?

    RESPONSE from Smith & Wesson: "Hi. as long as the ammo you choose meets S.A.A.M.I.E. specs you can use it in our guns."

    I couldn't find enough information about SAAMIE specs (http://www.saami.org/) for my Alaska Backpacker, 320 gr. Hard Cast ammo. In fact I couldn't find anything online about these rounds.

    Unless I find more information, I will probably switch to CorBon or Buffalo Bore. I wonder if anyone has a lead on this ammo and whether it meets these SAAMIE guidelines?

    Thank you.

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    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    Default I believe it is if

    you buy the stuff in the plastic cases. The boxes of ammo in a white and red box I think are loaded hotter and are bought directly from the manufacturer by the gun shop. I heard this from the guys behind the counter at MVS last weekend. Although they advised nothing over 260grns in those guns. I don't own one. Was just bsing with the guys and buying some ammo for my new gun. Maybe pay them a visit and stike up the conversation.

  3. #3

    Default 329PD cautionary note

    As I know it: the problem with a few of the heavier .44 mag loads relates to the "springiness" of the Titanium cylinder. When one of the improper loads for this gun is fired, the chambers expand a little more then they should, allowing the shell casing to also expand a little more then normal, but then when the chamber "springs" back to normal dimensions, the cases gets tight, making for very tight extraction, especially if all the rounds are fired.
    I haven't heard about anu of the guns, if properly manufactured, have any track record for breakage. That is a very tough alloy frame. The J-frame .357 mag Smiths hold up pretty well, but I don't know how much use they get, as is probably the case with the 329PD, except by the masochists among us.
    What makes me chuckle is that old saw about how "they don't make people like they used to." I mean, how bad can it be to carry a 3-3.5 pound handgun? I'm an old fart with a bad back these days, so for me now, it's a moot point, but when I was still healthy, I never even thought about slipping my 7 1/2" Super Blackhawk into it's old Uncle Mike's holster and walking around in the bush hunting or just cruising the woods, I just did it. Now, all I hear about carrying a steel frame gun is wah, wah wah. But, that's just me. 8*)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mauserboy View Post
    What makes me chuckle is that old saw about how "they don't make people like they used to." I mean, how bad can it be to carry a 3-3.5 pound handgun? I'm an old fart with a bad back these days, so for me now, it's a moot point, but when I was still healthy, I never even thought about slipping my 7 1/2" Super Blackhawk into it's old Uncle Mike's holster and walking around in the bush hunting or just cruising the woods, I just did it. Now, all I hear about carrying a steel frame gun is wah, wah wah. But, that's just me. 8*)
    mauserboy:
    Another good point made by you, and it's worth a chuckle.
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    Dwight,

    I can't say with certainty that Alaska Backpacker ammo does or doesn't meet SAAMI specs. I can say that I have shot it in 44 mag (320 grain) and 454 (370 grain) and 357 (200 grain) and I have pulled the bullets from all of these and weighed the powder charge and bullets. What I've found indicates that the ammo is loaded at or below what is specified as max pressure loads as indicated in all my loading data manuals. Also the velocities of these loads as chronographed reflect favorably with my own loads made with those bullet weights and powders and my data manuals velocity also.

    The powder used in this ammo appears to be H110 or W296 and the charge weight for the three calibers listed is at or below what is considered as maximum loads. So, if I were to draw a conclusion from these small samples I've seen, I'd say they do comply with SAAMI pressure limits.

    1. S&W's response is directly from their legal department. "Our guns are perfectly safe when used with ammunition that meets SAAMI specs."
    b. SAAMI specs, in this case, means that the pressure doesn't exceed the maximum limit.

    The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute is a volunteer organization that maintains an accepted set of standards that gun and ammo muanfacturers subscribe to. The people who make guns that are marked 44 Magnum will safely shoot ammo that is marked 44 magnum and vice versa. This means that the dimensions and the pressures are compatable (meet specs). The SAAMI maximum pressure limit for the 44 mag is 36,000 psi.

    I will say that when you shoot that little gun with those big bullets you will think SAAMI has betrayed you. The limiting factor for that gun will be your ability to handle the recoil and not the guns ability to handle the pressure. Hold on tight.

    As a side note, the Corbon, Buffalo Bore and some other manufacturers that use those same bullets, also use the same charge weight of what appears to be the same powder. I have not checked the Garrett brand in that caliber. Other than that, I don't have a clue.
    Last edited by Murphy; 04-30-2008 at 21:09.
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    The guy at "The Ammo Shop" in Soldotna claims that his 320gr 44 mag loads (along with all other ammo he manafactures) are all loaded to SAAMI specs. Give his a try. He sells at all the major gun shows & some shops carry his stuff.
    I've used it in my mod 29 with no problems. Good stuff, Alaskan made, & cheaper than the big boys.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

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    Thumbs up Ak Backpacker Ammo-SAAMI

    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Dwight,

    I can't say with certainty that Alaska Backpacker ammo does or doesn't meet SAAMI specs. I can say that I have shot it in 44 mag (320 grain) and 454 (370 grain) and 357 (200 grain) and I have bulled the bullets from all of these and weighed the powder charge and bullets. What I've found indicates that the ammo is loaded at or below what is specified as max pressure loads as indicated in all my loading data manuals. Also the velocities of these loads as chronographed reflect favorably with my own loads made with those bullet weights and powders and my data manuals velocity also.

    The powder used in this ammo appears to be H110 or W296 and the charge weight for the three calibers listed is at or below what is considered as maximum loads. So, if I were to draw a conclusion from these small samples I've seen, I'd say they do comply with SAAMI pressure limits.

    1. S&W's response is directly from their legal department. "Our guns are perfectly safe when used with ammunition that meets SAAMI specs."
    b. SAAMI specs, in this case, means that the pressure doesn't exceed the maximum limit.

    The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute is a volunteer organization that maintains an accepted set of standards that gun and ammo muanfacturers subscribe to. The people who make guns that are marked 44 Magnum will safely shoot ammo that is marked 44 magnum and vice versa. This means that the dimensions and the pressures are compatable (meet specs). The SAAMI maximum pressure limit for the 44 mag is 36,000 psi.

    I will say that when you shoot that little gun with those big bullets you will think SAAMI has betrayed you. The limiting factor for that gun will be your ability to handle the recoil and not the guns ability to handle the pressure. Hold on tight.

    As a side note, the Corbon, Buffalo Bore and some other manufacturers that use those same bullets, also use the same charge weight of what appears to be the same powder. I have not checked the Garrett brand in that caliber. Other than that, I don't have a clue.
    Excellent. Thank you, Murphy.

    "Betrayed" was close to my first thought when I shot .44Mag in this pistol. My experiences with military S&W.38/Beretta M-9 and M-16 then a few .44 Specials in this pistol, did not adequately prepare me for that moment. It's a handful.

    Mauserboy's comment is appreciated too. I used to carry bear spray when fishing/camping with a buddy who often "forgot" his pistol. When he carried it, he carped about it's weight. I bought a light gun so I'd carry it, which I do. Nowadays though, I notice SW629s or Rugers, which my friends shoot. I'm not sure I'd notice the extra 16-20oz of a 629 or Redhawk would be so bad.

    The 329PD will do for now. Plenty lessons to be learned, no matter the pistol. Thanks to all.

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    Having seen guns blown up with "locally brewed" ammo, I stick with stuff that comes in a box with printing thats shipped up here on the barge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildalaska View Post
    Having seen guns blown up with "locally brewed" ammo, I stick with stuff that comes in a box with printing thats shipped up here on the barge.

    What guns have you witnessed "blow up"?

    Let me guess it was a grenade with no marine around to throw himself on it.

    It seems odd that a poor dumbass country boy like me can make a million rounds of ammo without killing or injurying anyone or even damage one single gun. Amazing! I guess I've just been lucky.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Default I have been shooting 50 years

    and have never "seen" a gun blow up...

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    The one gun I've seen "blowup" was in my own hands, & the lettering on the ammo box was big & bright
    "Hornady".
    It was a box of standard factory loaded Hornady 223 in a stock Ruger Mini-14.
    Blew the bottom out of the magazine along with the ammo that was in it, & also blew off the little plate on the left side of the receiver. Bolt froze shut as I recall (25 yrs ago???). Little bit of powder burns to the face & hand was the only dammage to me (along with a severe case of the shakes). I was shooting alone out in te woods at a safe hillside from a crouching position befind a large old dead tree. 1st thought was that someone had shot at me & hit the tree, then saw what really happened as I started to turn & saw the mag floor plate etc. on the ground.
    Sent 1/2 the rest of the box of ammo to Hornady & 1/2 to Ruger at my friedly local gunshop's suggestion. He also sent the gun to Ruger for me (I had purchased it from him).
    Hornady sent ma a nice letter telling me the ammo hecked out fine & that there were no other problems with that lot. Must be the gun.
    According to my dealer friend Ruger said it must have been the ammo because they could find no problem with the gun. He said they refused to return it because was "unsafe to repair" & so they had destroyed it. They offered to replace it at "dealer cost" plus shipping as a nice gesture but at the time I could buy one at the local discount shop for what they were offering.
    The sad part is they would only replace it with a standard rifle while the gun had been a special order "Law Enforcement" model. A local LEO had ordered it thru this dealer with a dept letterhead & then chose not to pick it up. It was legal for a civilian to possess but Ruger would not sell them to civilians (at least that's how it was explained to young gullable me). The barrel was 16" total with the permanently attached flash hider/brake, front sightwas at the front of the handguard, & it had a "parratrooper" type folding stock(ever seen one like it Murphy?). If they would have let me purchase another like it I probably would have, but as it was I walked away with nothing.
    I'd like to think that now that I'm a bit older & wiser I'd make out a little better.

    By the way, I still have nothing against Ruger or Hornady.
    Vance in AK.

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    What guns have you witnessed "blow up"?
    Off the top of my head, 2 Ruger Super Blackhawks, a S&W 629, a S&W 66...

    There may be others but Im too lazy to try and dig up more info.

    It seems odd that a poor dumbass country boy like me can make a million rounds of ammo without killing or injurying anyone or even damage one single gun. Amazing! I guess I've just been lucky
    Me too, I've never had one of my own handloads blow up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildalaska View Post
    Off the top of my head, 2 Ruger Super Blackhawks, a S&W 629, a S&W 66...

    There may be others but Im too lazy to try and dig up more info.



    Me too, I've never had one of my own handloads blow up.
    I'll take a guess that the data was pulled out of old manual that used data that looked for "pressure signs" or a copper crusher.

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    No actually as I recall, it was ammo purchased at Gun Shows. One of the makers is no longer in business.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vance in AK View Post
    The guy at "The Ammo Shop" in Soldotna claims that his 320gr 44 mag loads (along with all other ammo he manafactures) are all loaded to SAAMI specs. Give his a try. He sells at all the major gun shows & some shops carry his stuff.
    I've used it in my mod 29 with no problems. Good stuff, Alaskan made, & cheaper than the big boys.

    I found his ammo to be very inaccurate. (38spl, 357mag, 357Sig, etc.)

    He mixes several kinds of brass.

    Due to the capacity differences between the different makers of brass this would cause different pressures in each load resulting in different points of impact????

    I prefer to pay more... for quality ammo.

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    Personally, unless you are getting into bench rest type work I've never seen enough difference between differing brands of brass to be noticable.
    Maybe I'm just not as good a shot as others...

    All I can say is I've never had a problem with it or found it to be less accurate than other brands, but I also reload & buy more componets from him than loaded ammo.
    Usually when I pick up something in a new caliber I'll buy his stuff & shoot it to get brass.
    Vance in AK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildalaska View Post
    Having seen guns blown up with "locally brewed" ammo, I stick with stuff that comes in a box with printing thats shipped up here on the barge.

    Just so you know, and not to worry you about your store bought ammo, but I'm the guy who did the testing on factory ammo and set up the testing equipment at two different ammo makers and also did some of the testing and load development for one major bulelt makers. So if I can't do it right, buying factory ammo won't help you much.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Just so you know, and not to worry you about your store bought ammo, but I'm the guy who did the testing on factory ammo and set up the testing equipment at two different ammo makers and also did some of the testing and load development for one major bulelt makers. So if I can't do it right, buying factory ammo won't help you much.
    Yeah but if it blows up, the customer has somebody to sue

    I roll my own.....

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    For several years I have been packing AK Backpacker 300grain rounds in my plain jane short barreled Redhawk. I had never touched one off, but practiced with normal factory .44 mag stuff so that I would not be surprized at the recoil when I did actually shoot one of these "bear killers".

    At the range and at stores I had met folks that have shot them and they all told me how much of a "handful" this ammo is. "It is hard to control the gun." "It really hurts after the second shot." and so on. Some of these guys were big dudes so I was concerned that this ammo was too hot for me to just shoot at the range.

    Having small hands (which is why I shoot the Redhawk) and having been tricked as a teenager into shooting a .44 S&W with some home rolled max pressure rounds. I just didn't want to injure myself again shooting these "massively powerful" AK Backpacker rounds. I will practice enough to make the first shot count.

    I read this post some months ago and started thinking that there is no way they could be more powerful than an off-the-shelf brand of ammo. So a couple of weeks ago while out enjoying the beaches of the Gulf of Alaska for work, I set up a little range with drift logs and what not for targets and backstops against a sand dune. 4 inch log for a target, 6 inch log to brace it against, and then 2 feet behind that a 14 inch log as a backstop with the sand dune 10 feet behind that.

    Warmed up with some .44 special, then some discount brand hollow points, at which point I felt ready for some Corebond high velocity stuff. Not bad - no pain and the forearms are still feeling good.

    Now it was time for the 300 grain bear killers. Ummm... the discount hollow points were harder to control than the AK Backpackers. Anyone that says that these .44 mag rounds are hard to control, hurt, or are a handfull needs to hit the range more than once a decade and practice, practice, practice. They should also stop using those space metal guns and get some weight in their hands. It is all about the physics.

    Alright they didn't hurt me (down right comfy!), but how did they do on the driftwood logs? Stunning!

    All the ammo went through the 4 inch target log and the 6 inch brace log holding it. The .44 special bullets were on the sand behind them and had bounced off the 14 inch log. The hollow points did what they always do and came to pieces all over the place. One nice mushroom laying on the sand looking like a shiny nickle. The Corebond went through the target logs and stuck in the 14 inch log at an unknown depth. The AK Backpacker went through everything and hit the sand dune and could not be retrieved without a shovel. That is some serious penetration.

    After this I dug through a gear bag and found my 258 grain hornady bronze bullet loaded rounds from "the guy that blows up peoples guns". I had bought these before I met folks that had bad experiences with his products and decided to put them on the shelf. I shot them after the AK Backpackers and again they were not as "hot" as I was lead to believe. They also went through everything and were lost in the sand dune backstop and could not be recovered.

    All the brass in the AK Backpacker pack I bought was Starline I am guessing since it had no other marking other than a star and a line next to it. That is high quality brass.

    My day on the beach also proved (once again) that practice makes anything easy. It also taught me that just because some big dude at a gun store is whining about how bad his .44 hurts his hand it does not mean that his issues will apply to me and my awesome Redhawk. I love that gun. AND I love The Leather Shop Guide model chest holster I carry it in. Now I need to have the cylinder milled for moon clips and toss the clunky speed loaders. Some XS sights too.

  20. #20
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Ak Backpacker and Redhawk day at the beach

    Interesting post, AkRay. Field tested, I guess you'd say. Good for your Redhawk. Bad day for timber though.

    I did email the mouseguns website about Backpacker ammo, but Marshall didnt find any specs either.

    Thanks.

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