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Thread: .44 Reduced Loads and Unique

  1. #1

    Default .44 Reduced Loads and Unique

    I have been using 11.0 grains of unique in my .44 Rem Mag, w/ 200 grain jacketed bullets for a practice load. This is where most load manuals start. My question is can I go lower (ie. 10 or 9 grains). Unique is a pretty fast powder, and I have seen load data for cast bullets down to 6-8 grain range. Just curious.

    Thanks, Tom

  2. #2
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    Default Lighter loads...

    Tom,

    Yes you can go lower. The "don't load below this line" notice is just for rifles with slow burning powder, which could create a dangerous condition known as detonation. In a revolver, such as your 44, with slow (for handguns) powder such as H110 and 4227, charges that are reduced very much below max will result in poor ignition and erratic velocity which will give poor accuracy. Those powders should only be used with heavy bullets and full charges for good ignition and even velocities. Unique is a very good light to moderate load powder for the 44 mag.

    Other good powders for light to moderate loads in the 44 Mag are Vihta N350 and Alliant Blue Dot and about a 10 grain charge with either. These would also be cleaner burning. You would also get better accuracy and more consistant velocity with a 200 grain bullet and these powders in 44 special cases.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  3. #3

    Default

    Never tried it Tom, but I range up to that level and lower with cast bullets. At some lower end there's supposedly a potential for the lead and jacket to separate, leaving the jacket behind in the barrel for big problems on the next shot. I suspect that goes back to the days when people were swaging their own bullets with straight jackets ala some of the older Speers.

    I'm kinda curious why you are bothering with the expense of jacketed bullets for your practice rounds when hard cast are so comparatively cheap and versatile, even if you buy rather than cast. I've seen them sold bulk in a number of Anchorage stores, plus you can order them. This bullet from Midway comes pretty close to what you are shooting and at a heck of a price, and Midsouth has an assortment of cast for even less than Midway. Midway has 8 pages of 44 pistol bullets, and Midsouth has a bunch too, so lots of options if you can't find them locally. Even paying shipping, you'll save a whole bunch over jacketed models.

  4. #4

    Smile Be Careful

    The powder in a case is not nessacarily by weight sometimes as much as volume. If the volume of powder in a case falls below the primer flash hole you can create a small bomb. This is called flash over, instead of a given amount of powder igniting (that which is in contact with the base) a larger surface of powder is ignited a once (the top surface of the horizontal powder charge). This can cause a pressure spike, with catistrophic results. Will it do it with this powder ? I don't know and am unwilling to find out. That's why I have a reloading manual. If you think this is incorrect. Consider this if you take a muzzle loader using a normal charge and only ram the ball down half way, you now have the same condition. The muzzle loader can self destruct, and injure you. BE SAFE; powders cheap burn it.

  5. #5

    Default low pressure loads

    Yep to all in this thread. One powder that I've been using lately for the purpose you describe is Trailboss. It is VERY bulky and relatively fast and burns very cleanly. The bulk helps prevent double charges and gross under volume charges. It measures (throws) very uniformly. It is an ideal powder for plinking or practice ammo... seems especially good in the straight-walled/pistol type cases. Just a thought.

  6. #6
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    Default More smoke......fewer mirrors....

    Quote Originally Posted by brav01 View Post
    The powder in a case is not nessacarily by weight sometimes as much as volume. If the volume of powder in a case falls below the primer flash hole you can create a small bomb. This is called flash over, instead of a given amount of powder igniting (that which is in contact with the base) a larger surface of powder is ignited a once (the top surface of the horizontal powder charge). This can cause a pressure spike, with catistrophic results.
    brav01,

    There has never been a documented case of such a condition in a handgun with unique or any other similar propellant. This "flash over" or "detonation" is/was only with half charges of very slow rifle powder in large rifle cases, and if you read up on it a little more with the tests done by Norma and Alliant you'll find other factors that contribute to it. Also the air gap above black powder (an explosive) behaves much differently than progressive burning smokeless powders (a flammable solid).

    But otherwise your advise on following the manuals is very sound and of course we all should follow. Unique is not a propellant that can cause dangerous conditions in light charges. Many tons of it have been burned just as you describe laying down in horzontal cases with the primer fire igniting it over the top. Many pistol powders work fine just the same way.

    I think there are other powders that may indeed work much better than Unique and using shorter (44 spcl) case will also help. I think George's suggestion to use Trail Boss may be the best, especially for cast bullets, which would be better than jacketed for these light loads.

    The greatest danger in using small charges in large cases with Unique, and other powders of similar burning rate, is that it is easy to double charge a case and in such a large case it is also easy to over look it. Always check each case visually after charging a quantity to make sure all have the same amount of powder. This will help prevent the double charge and also the absent charge which can also be a serious problem in a revolver. Another reason to use a bulkier powder as George suggested.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  7. #7

    Default .44

    Thanks to all. Wealth of knowledge. I am not very expierienced in the world of pistol, so some food for thought. I think I will use the .44 special cases for my reduced loads, and just stick by my 11.0 grain load for the .44 rem mags. I was told to only use new or once-fired cases for full power loads, so thats what I do for my H110 loads. Then the cases go to my light loads.

    I use jacketed bullets for practice because I want to avoid leading. Recently I have been thinking about giving them a go since I am not pushing them all that fast. My only concern is if it is good for the barrel to switch back and forth between cast and jacketed.

    Also, how does Alliant's 2400 compare to H110 for hunting loads. Will it significantly reduce muzzle blast, recoil, etc. and still produce respectable velocities? My barrel is a 6"

    Thanks again

  8. #8

    Cool As I SAID

    Somewhere in all of my stuff which I have stored; I have a Ruger security 6 with a cylinder blown out. This explosion was attributed to a light load. This revolver was destroyed by a friend of mine. The problem with a double charge theory is that a double charge would have been in the reloading tolerance and a triple charge wouldn't fit. He was however loading ammo well below the suggested volume of powder. NOW; I didn't say it would happen with Unique powder, cause I don't know. It was only a suggestion. HAVE FUN, and ENJOY.

  9. #9

    Default revolver blows

    No telling what causes some of this, especially in revolvers. I've seen two 357 S&W 19s blow the active chamber out along with the top strap. Pretty exciting! Both were firing "medium target" type loads, commercially loaded. The best guess on those was a double charge or over-charge of something like Bullseye or 700X under a cast 158 gr bullet. I've never heard of an undercharge "detonation" in a pistol with one of the fast powders. But, I've learned to never say never- just unaware of any. One other cause of blown revolvers that has been documented is the start/stop bullet thing where a mis-matched (or possibly contaminated) primer/powder load is fired. The bullet is pushed into the barrel forcing cone by the force of the primer. Then, with the bullet at a dead stop and firmly lodged in the forcing cone, the powder charge ignites creating a very sharp and high pressure spike. Anywho, always good to go over these things just to keep the senses sharp and mind focused for the loading bench.

  10. #10
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    Default Bullet-in-Bore condition

    BrownBear is right on the money.

    I dunno to what extent this applies to your 44, but the Speer # 12 has some loads in 38 Special that are marked DNR (Do Not Reduce), and yup, some of them use Unique.

    Their explanation is

    “Reductions of loads below the levels shown can result in a bullet-in-bore condition in revolvers with excessive barrel/cylinder gaps. THESE JACKETED BULLET LOADS MUST NOT BE USED IN RIFLES.”

    Earlier in the write-up they say…. “When loading standard pressure 38 Special, lead bullets are usually best. They are easily propelled through the barrel by light powder charges. Jacketed bullets create more resistance than lead bullets and can actually stick in the bore with light charges.”

    This was all news to me until quite a while back. I hadn’t loaded 38 Specials before, just .357s. I use only cast bullets in both now.

    Also, regarding his statements about cast bullets, at the last gun-show there in Wasilly, “Arnie’s Ammo” was selling some good lookin cast bullets. I didn’t buy any because I have a bunch I ordered from Cabelas, or Midway, but I got his card. The email is f15apg@Hotmail.com the address is in Anchorage.

    Smitty of the North

  11. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TomM View Post
    Thanks to all. Wealth of knowledge. I am not very expierienced in the world of pistol, so some food for thought. I think I will use the .44 special cases for my reduced loads, and just stick by my 11.0 grain load for the .44 rem mags. I was told to only use new or once-fired cases for full power loads, so thats what I do for my H110 loads. Then the cases go to my light loads.

    I use jacketed bullets for practice because I want to avoid leading. Recently I have been thinking about giving them a go since I am not pushing them all that fast. My only concern is if it is good for the barrel to switch back and forth between cast and jacketed.

    Also, how does Alliant's 2400 compare to H110 for hunting loads. Will it significantly reduce muzzle blast, recoil, etc. and still produce respectable velocities? My barrel is a 6"

    Thanks again
    Tom,

    I'm not saying it can't happen with Unique, or any other powder but it isn't likely. Of course sticking with the recommended loads is always a safer approach.

    Cast lead bullets with 10 or 12 grains of Unique shouldn't lead a barrel. An important consideration is bullet sized to match the barrel and cylinder throats and a high enough BHN number. I would think any bullet correctly sized wouldn't lead a clean barrel with a BHN of 15. As for switching back and forth between cast and jacket I would just clean in between.

    2400 is still a good cast bullet powder and load density is a little less than H110, meaning grain for grain will take up more space. It is also a little faster. A 20 grain charge of H110 can be equaled with about 18 grains of 2400. A 265 grain hard cast Keith style and 18 grains of 2400 was a favorite load of Keith's. 2400 is more versatile than H110 and can be used over a wider range of velocities and the H110 just for max or near max loads. Also, I think it does reduce muzzle flash from the levels with H110. There are some new powders that may work very well for moderate to heavy loads, Vihta N110 is worth a try if you can take out a second mortgage to buy a pound. It is very clean and low flash and works well in all the big revolvers.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  12. #12

    Default

    7 gr of unique and a 240 gr jacketed bullet has worked in my Rugers for about 25 years.

  13. #13
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    Default

    If you use an amount of powder that if doubled will still be safe in your pistol, then double loads are not a cylinder risk.
    If your prefered midrange load, if doubled could cause cylinder damage, look into the loading tray before seating bullets with a flashlight. Doubled charges stick out readily.
    If using a progressive loader, invest in a powder level indicator.

    I always carry a box of magnums with me to target practice, when done shooting, I fire a couple of cylinders full of magnums. This reduces leading in the revolver and lets me know exactly how these loads shoot in comparison to the lead loads

    A system that worked well for me, with the 357, 41 and 44 magnums was to adjust my lead loads to hit center of bulsey with a classic 6 oclock hold, while the magnums hit at point of aim. This was at 25 yards. I adjusted the powder levels of the mid range lead loads to achieve the desired impact difference.

    Once I was comfortable with my proficiency at that distance, I used the bottom of the red insert on the front site to align with the top of my rear site and found where each load hit at distance by placing the target on top of the elevated post. Mostly the lead loads hit the 50 yd target well and the magnums got the 80 to 100 yard range.

    I prefer a rifle for those ranges but the pistol will work if you do.

    Another peice of unsolicited advice, if you load for a variety of pistols and shot guns, try to use a common powder so that bulk purchase can save you money. 700 X works well in sotguns, 38spcl, 45ACP for me. While H110 or 2400 works with the pistol magnums and 30 carbine.

    Enjoy your loading and shooting.

    Hank

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