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Thread: An Honest Question

  1. #1

    Default An Honest Question

    I respect those of you who do not like to exceed published data or velocity in developing loads and it's very understandable. I personally dont use that criteria to define a safe load and have debated it with some of you. We have our differences on that subject and let's leave it at that.

    My question for those who define the safe limits by published data and velocites is... what if your developing a load for a bullet and powder combination that has no published data. How do you determine the safe limits of that load? And how do you define safe?

    Let's keep it civil

    Thanks,

    Mark

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    Use a combination of different things but mainly primer appearance, condition of the primer pocket, case length, extraction and possible marks on the face of the brass as well as published guidelines.

    Other than fire forming the brass in the rifle it will be used in I NEVER use brass more than one time on a hunting trip.

    My loads are not about velocity, accurracy is my quest but for the most part cases that are slightly overbore generally give the best accurracy when they are loaded to maximum or close to it.
    Tennessee

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Other than fire forming the brass in the rifle it will be used in I NEVER use brass more than one time on a hunting trip.
    Why dont you use a case more than once for hunting?

  4. #4

    Default I have developed

    loads for several wildcats of my own design in the past. I tried to determine what powder, it's burning rate and density might be a good starting point by comparing to cartridges of similar caliber and case capacity. I would average several different loads whenever possible to find a balance. I would also try to use, for starters, the slowest powder that would still be relatively efficient. The rest would be a matter of safe and proper reloading procedures, including watching for pressure signs. Hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    Why dont you use a case more than once for hunting?
    The cost is cheap compared to the hunting trip and only using it once after it is fire formed removes another variable that could go wrong.
    Brass is used once for hunting then it is moved over to the "sighting in" or offhand practice section.
    Tennessee

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    The cost is cheap compared to the hunting trip and only using it once after it is fire formed removes another variable that could go wrong.
    Brass is used once for hunting then it is moved over to the "sighting in" or offhand practice section.
    I do the same. Brass that has several shots is used for development. Once a final load is determined it's shot in new brass for confirmation. That once fired brass is loaded for hunting.

  7. #7

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    I've had to do it a number of times for wildcats I've designed. Basically I start with case capacity (water) compared to other similar cartridges in the same type of action, then see what powders are best in that round, and use their starting loads. Old, old rounds with modern powders are another example- just no loading data, so you have to compare burn rates, then work from starting loads.

    I'm ultra-conservative on pressures and velocities. An extra 100fps gained at the cost of brass life just isn't worth it for me, especially with scarce cases as in the old ones, or the time and effort to make new ones for wildcats.

    I have to have a very good reason to exceed book max for standard rounds, and a 100 fps gain isn't good enough reason for me. That small a gain isn't going to have a meaningful effect on either trajectory or impact on game. And if I need that much or more extra, I'm just going to move on up to a bigger case rather than stress my existing rifle and cases with nosebleed pressures. The classic for me is the 45-70. If I can't get what I want at book max for levers, I move on up to my 450 Alaskan. If that won't do it, I switch to my 458 Win mag. Anyone else is welcome to do what they want with their brass and their guns, but it's not going to happen in my house. Just call me conservative.

  8. #8

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    I have a old reloading book with several obsolete cartridges listed. If anyone has something they are looking for let me know and I will be glad to look and see if it is in this manual.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by marshall View Post
    I do the same. Brass that has several shots is used for development. Once a final load is determined it's shot in new brass for confirmation. That once fired brass is loaded for hunting.
    Interesting... I dont consider brass in its prime until it's been fired at least 2 maybe, 3 times. My preferred method for reloading is partial FL (or body) and partial neck sizing to form the body and neck to the chamber. But that's a different topic.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    I've had to do it a number of times for wildcats I've designed. Basically I start with case capacity (water) compared to other similar cartridges in the same type of action, then see what powders are best in that round, and use their starting loads. Old, old rounds with modern powders are another example- just no loading data, so you have to compare burn rates, then work from starting loads.
    All very well and good you dont like to exceed max published loads, but... the question is... how do you determine the safe maximum for a cartridge/bullet/powder combo that there is no puilished data for? For instance... a 6.5 WSM, RL17 and 140 gr Berger VLDs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    All very well and good you dont like to exceed max published loads, but... the question is... how do you determine the safe maximum for a cartridge/bullet/powder combo that there is no puilished data for? For instance... a 6.5 WSM, RL17 and 140 gr Berger VLDs?
    Alliant has published data with the 223WSM, 243WSM, 270WSM, 7WSM, 300WSM and 325WSM using RL-17. Give their technical department a call and inquire about your concerns. Perhaps they have data that hasn't made it to print yet. Their ballisticians are always working on new data.

    Berger is another good resource to call. I had an email transaction with them last week and they were eager to share data. They also said they would have a book in print this year

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by marshall View Post
    Alliant has published data with the 223WSM, 243WSM, 270WSM, 7WSM, 300WSM and 325WSM using RL-17. Give their technical department a call and inquire about your concerns. Perhaps they have data that hasn't made it to print yet. Their ballisticians are always working on new data.

    Berger is another good resource to call. I had an email transaction with them last week and they were eager to share data. They also said they would have a book in print this year
    I know how I would go about determining starting and and max loads. My curiosity is how does someone who rely's on published data to determine max loads go about determining a max without published data

    I can pretty much guarantee ya that neither Alliant nor Berger Berger have data for the 6.5 WSM

  13. #13

    Default But

    several of us have given you a basis for doing what you asked and yet you ask again. Both Brownbear and I have suggested a basic method for a starting point based on our own experiences, so, if that doesn't help, sorry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    I know how I would go about determining starting and and max loads. My curiosity is how does someone who rely's on published data to determine max loads go about determining a max without published data
    Mark,

    At the risk of getting hammered by experts I will go ahead and reveal my method. I do not have equipment to measure CUP or PSI data when firing a rifle. What I have done is a ton of reading and I have asked a ton of questions to people that I respect. I have consolidated their suggestions, hints and information into the following.

    I start with a low charge and increase in .7gr increments in the heavy hitters and .3gr increments with the little steamers. I chronograph every session and use 4-5 rounds in each charge to get a reliable average velocity. For example, if 42gr gives my 2520fps that's 6fps per tenth of a grain of charge. I would expect the next increase of .7gr to give me 2562fps and 42fps for every additional .7gr increase. This system is predicable and has worked for me very well.

    Once the charge increase does not produce a like increase in velocity I know that I am getting close and I start paying attention to classic signs. Signs like stiff bolt lifts, flat or cratered primers, split necks or stretched case heads. I have never had any of these issues when using the chronograph and incremental charge increases as I mentioned. The key is to start low and get a good graph started. My starting COL is generally max magazine length or .050 off the lands which ever is shorter.

    Connect the dots on the graph and it will start down hill prior to over pressure. If you keep increasing the charge you will increase the recoil and the velocity will stall much like a horse power graph on a dyno sheet. Problems will start to appear if you continue.

    If your pressure shows up early in testing with a less than full case pick a slower powder and start over. If you get compressed loads prior to peaking the graph pick a faster powder and start over. Once the best combination is found I tweak the seating depths for best groups. It may sound like a lot of work but I enjoy the testing.

    In my case with the 375 Ruger and 300gr TSX bullets I could not get RL-15 to shoot well at a reasonable velocity. It was very accurate in the low 2500's. H-4350 shot well in the mid 2600's but I had reached a compressed load prior to the peak of the curve on my graph. My natural progression was RL-17 based on their claims of 4350 burn speed with increased velocity. I hit a winning combination near 2700fps, an increase of about 65fps over the H-4350 and the load is at 98% case capacity.

    Also Mark,

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    Somebody that uses published data to determine max loads for there rifle should change there method. The max published loads in any book are for one specific rifle only and not for yours. I have a 270Win that will stick cases and pruduce very sticky bolt lift with published max loads. If there are no published loads, you pick starting loads for a similar round and work your way up. I'm not sure on the 6.5wsm but I would think starting loads for the 6.5 rem mag would be safe and then work up. marshall uses a method that works very well. I usually go by signs of to much pressure and then back down. Flattened primers, bolt face impressions on the case, sticky bolt lift, cratered primers, loose primers and all that normal too much pressure stuff.
    Now, loading for a powder that has no data is more fun, like H116.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    I respect those of you who do not like to exceed published data or velocity in developing loads and it's very understandable. I personally dont use that criteria to define a safe load and have debated it with some of you. We have our differences on that subject and let's leave it at that.

    My question for those who define the safe limits by published data and velocites is... what if your developing a load for a bullet and powder combination that has no published data. How do you determine the safe limits of that load? And how do you define safe?

    Let's keep it civil

    Thanks,

    Mark
    There are a number of ways to produce safe handloads, but the only way to establish safe maximum loads is in a pressure barrel and use that data. Everything else is the WAG method and while it has worked for many for a long time, it is a little like your cholesterol in that the numbers will eventually catch up with you.

    I have used/built wildcat cartridges and so to answer that question I do not push on the envelope. For example, I have been a STW fan for years, long before there was any reloading data readily available. I know I can launch 160 grain bullets at 3500+ fps in a STW. I've done it more than once. However I know that is not a safe load because the chronograph doesn't lie. Or at least a reliable chronograph doesn't lie IMO (just in case you're reading MR). So I extrapolate data from similar case sizes and experiment until I get what I consider expected velocity levels, which meant 3250 fps or so (dependent on barrel length) with a 160 grain bullet in the STW. What do you know, when the pressure data became widely available for the STW it proved 3300 is possible, but it's right on the edge of maximum safe pressure. If case stretching is not unusual and primer pockets stay tight for 10 or more loads with my test cases and the velocity is in line with expectations then I consider that load safe in my rifle. But this is a wildcat cartridge I am considering and by it's very name it is a one-of-a-kind proposition. I would never say that is a safe load to use in any other rifle or for someone else to use. However, if you are loading for a 30/06 that loaded round should be safe to fire in any and every rifle proofed for a 30/06 or liability becomes a legitimate concern and I want no part of it.

    Just because I can get a certain velocity with no pressure signs is not indicative it is a safe load IMO. I've only a little experience with pressure barrels, but I know that velocity is directly related to pressure and so if velocity is unusually high then so is the pressure, regardless what the pressure signs are telling me. Thankfully most guns can take and handle pressures in excess of 70,000 psi (which as an average chamber pressure is too high in all cartridges with which I am familiar) and I know from the performance some guys are getting that they are pushing these levels and more with no obvious pressure signs or at least no signs that they can see on the case itself. This does not mean that there will be no problems because of the strength of the rifle and I always remember that one overloaded case can be all it takes to end my shooting career (damage to eyes, fingers, or worse). I like fast bullets, but once I get to a velocity that is within the pressure limitations of a certain cartridge/case it is best to move to more capacity rather than trying to find what is safe in your gun. It can be a dangerous hobby to say the least.

    I realize there are newer powders on the market (i.e. RL 17) that are very progressive and I would be very uncomfortable trying to push this powder to the max or others like it without more experience with it and some hard test results to review. Higher velocity is apparently possible within safe and sane pressures by using these propellants. Loading for the 6.5 WSM I would look at max velocity in the 264 WM and RL 17 and use that as a sane ceiling for my load data in the 6.5 WSM. Once that velocity is reached I would be comfortable in thinking that I am within the maximum safe pressure for that combination 6.5 WSM.

    I would love for Murphy to weigh in on this one.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by mauserboy View Post
    several of us have given you a basis for doing what you asked and yet you ask again. Both Brownbear and I have suggested a basic method for a starting point based on our own experiences, so, if that doesn't help, sorry.
    Mauserboy, so far you and Snowwolfe and now Marshall have given me your techniques for determining max loads and I appreciate that. I'm still hoping to hear from others. What I am looking for is consistancy in method. In handloading, consistancy is a very difficult thing to achieve because there are so many variables and mysterys. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Mark

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by marshall View Post
    Mark,

    At the risk of getting hammered by experts I will go ahead and reveal my method. I do not have equipment to measure CUP or PSI data when firing a rifle. What I have done is a ton of reading and I have asked a ton of questions to people that I respect. I have consolidated their suggestions, hints and information into the following.

    I start with a low charge and increase in .7gr increments in the heavy hitters and .3gr increments with the little steamers. I chronograph every session and use 4-5 rounds in each charge to get a reliable average velocity. For example, if 42gr gives my 2520fps that's 6fps per tenth of a grain of charge. I would expect the next increase of .7gr to give me 2562fps and 42fps for every additional .7gr increase. This system is predicable and has worked for me very well.

    Once the charge increase does not produce a like increase in velocity I know that I am getting close and I start paying attention to classic signs. Signs like stiff bolt lifts, flat or cratered primers, split necks or stretched case heads. I have never had any of these issues when using the chronograph and incremental charge increases as I mentioned. The key is to start low and get a good graph started. My starting COL is generally max magazine length or .050 off the lands which ever is shorter.

    Connect the dots on the graph and it will start down hill prior to over pressure. If you keep increasing the charge you will increase the recoil and the velocity will stall much like a horse power graph on a dyno sheet. Problems will start to appear if you continue.

    If your pressure shows up early in testing with a less than full case pick a slower powder and start over. If you get compressed loads prior to peaking the graph pick a faster powder and start over. Once the best combination is found I tweak the seating depths for best groups. It may sound like a lot of work but I enjoy the testing.

    In my case with the 375 Ruger and 300gr TSX bullets I could not get RL-15 to shoot well at a reasonable velocity. It was very accurate in the low 2500's. H-4350 shot well in the mid 2600's but I had reached a compressed load prior to the peak of the curve on my graph. My natural progression was RL-17 based on their claims of 4350 burn speed with increased velocity. I hit a winning combination near 2700fps, an increase of about 65fps over the H-4350 and the load is at 98% case capacity.

    Also Mark,
    Mark, thanks for sharing and hopefully no one hammers you for explaining your method. It sounds very interesting. I to have noticed the drop off in velocity as I begin to exceed max pressure loads. That's one of a several signs. But I'll share a little confession with you. Velocity doesn't always drop off. I was experimenting with RL17 and 180 E-Tips in my 300 RUM once just for curiosity. I loaded 11 rounds starting at 80 gr up to 90 anticipating reaching max about 87-88 with really no idea. To my knowledge RL17 has never been used in a RUM cartridge. I got to 86 with velocity rising quickley with each step, showing about 3400 fps there. At 87, I got a slight stiff bolt lift with a velocity of about 3450. I wasn't completely convinced it was a pressure sign, maybe becasue I didn't want to be convinced, so I said wht the heck... I'll shoot the 88 gr load and see what happens. Bang.... nice liitle jolt, about normal, and look at the chrony. WOW!!!.... 3500 fps for a 180 gr pill. Then I thinks to me self. Hmmmm.. wonder how that bolt will lift? Well it didnt lift. So i used a plastic handle that I happen to have along to tap the bolt up. And then with some effort, i pull the bolt back and extract the case. The primer and ejector fall out. Fortunately, I wasn't hurt and it only cost $25 to fix the rifle. I should have paid atention to the first sign.... obviously

    Some of us are put together a little different than others but that's another discussion

    All that being said, handloading is a mysterious black art and I am convinced there are some very general rules to follow, but nothing hard and fast.

    Thanks again,

    Mark

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    Somebody that uses published data to determine max loads for there rifle should change there method. The max published loads in any book are for one specific rifle only and not for yours. I have a 270Win that will stick cases and pruduce very sticky bolt lift with published max loads. If there are no published loads, you pick starting loads for a similar round and work your way up. I'm not sure on the 6.5wsm but I would think starting loads for the 6.5 rem mag would be safe and then work up. marshall uses a method that works very well. I usually go by signs of to much pressure and then back down. Flattened primers, bolt face impressions on the case, sticky bolt lift, cratered primers, loose primers and all that normal too much pressure stuff.
    Now, loading for a powder that has no data is more fun, like H116.
    rbuck, I basically think along your lines but refrain from, shall we say, telling others how to do it. I too look for pressure signs and am interested to see how those who normally used published data determine their limits without it.

    Thanks,

    Mark

  20. #20
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    Using my methods have saved me from problems with a very expensive rifle recently. I have not run across a situation to date where traditional high pressure signs have shown up prior to a drop in gain not velocity for a known charge increase once proper records and a graph is plotted, perhaps I've been lucky.

    The rifle in my example is a new McMillan TAC338 Lapua and high end Night Force scope that a close friend has purchased with all the bells and whistles. We started out with accuracy as our goal not velocity. He's getting ready for a long range course taught by McMillan and good ammo is in order.

    We gathered notes from multiple books and powder company's. Our selection of components is N165, Lapua brass, CCI 250 primers and Seirra MK 250gr bullets.

    This was easy in a way because Black Hills uses the same components with a ? mark on the powder. Their ammo chronographed at 2850 just as advertised. Their accuracy was about 1/2 MOA with testing at 300 yards. This is the ammo that McMillian sells for the class if you want to pay $4.25 per shot, 150 shots required for the course of fire.

    We ended up with 90.6gr at the peak of the curve and 89.9gr as an accuracy load with the seating depth tweaked for his rifle. Velocity was 2870fps and accuracy was better than the production Black Hills match stuff.

    Sierra's data was wrong for our application. They list 92.4 as max and that velocity as 2900fps. We never exceeded 90.5 with the chronograph and chart method. If we had loaded a published max load we would have been in trouble. Sierra's test rifle uses a 26" 1:10 twist barrel and the McMillan rifle is 27" 1:10 barrel.

    We still have time to do some more load development. The next bullet will be a lapua lock base with the same components. The winner will be the class load.

    Bottom line, be careful and do your homework. Always start low and work up. Pay attention to classic signs and don't shoot the next higher charge if your still scratching your head about the last one.

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