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Thread: 454 Casull Powder Selection for short barreled Ruger SR Alaskan?

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Default 454 Casull Powder Selection for short barreled Ruger SR Alaskan?

    Something Murphy posted in a previous thread got me thinking about going with a faster powder for heavier weight cast bullets in the short barreled Alaskan:
    I don't know what velocity we could get from that 2 1/2" barrel but certainly there will be a limit and that powder may limit much sooner than another. Short barrels and H110/W296 don't mix well. My expectation is that we could get 1100 from that barrel or close and that would be a fair compromise for the combination you have there. I do know that bullet weight is the answer. That barrel/powder combination will limit velocity to some number but will well achieve the limit velocity with several bullet weights from 250 to 400 grains, therefore we will be better served with the heaviest bullet and I think the 370 grain is a practical limit in that regard. I would only change to a powder that will respond better to the short burn time afforded by the 2 1/2" barrel, namely Vihta 110 or maybe N105 or Norma R123. I just haven't tried the caliber in such a short barrel but have used the 41 and 44 mags that short as well as the 45 Colt and all have done better with powders other than the H110/W296. I think Lil'Gun may help slightly, also.
    After poking around the internet tubes for awhile, I find a little info for faster than the H110 norm like, Alliant 2400, Ramshot Enforcer, A.A. 4100 (& no.9), and then down into the slightly slower powders Murphy mentioned down to the 4227's.

    I don't pretend to be an expert on internal ballistics etc... nor do I have a truckload of experience loading for handguns. But some of you do...

    Obviously there is a whole spectrum of powder burn rates that will work in this case with various bullets including some outside of the burn-rate neighborhood of H110 (Trail Boss comes to mind), but what I want to know is which side of the burn rate equation is more suitable for Heavier weight hardcast and which side is more suitable for lightweight hardcast and suitable jacketed bullets? Which end is more suitable for shorter barrels? why?

    Does anybody have experience with any of these faster powders with 340+ hardcast? Opinions?

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    Member Doug in Alaska's Avatar
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    I shoot a .454 Casull Ruger Alaskan and Lil'Gun works well for me.
    Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.

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    I shoot a 4.25" .454. I like 4227 so far.
    2400 seems to burn dirty. Starting to try AA#9 next. Tried unique for a while, it seemed to burn dirty also.
    H110 seems to have sharper recoil than 4227.
    Just guessing on my part, but it seems like a faster burn rate would be better in a short barrel. Less muzzle flash?
    Federal 205m primers have worked best for me. 205 would be just as good, I just have a pile of 205m.
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    Quote Originally Posted by travelers View Post
    I shoot a 4.25" .454...
    Must be a custom gun huh? What do you got!? I'm looking for a Ruger SRH 454 Cylinder to have put in my 4" 45 Colt Redhawk.

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    So you are looking for the best powder match velocity in your gun pushing 340s? I like LillGun best also in my 4Ē revolver. I donít have anything shorter but I would bet it will do great, I suspect you would be very happy with something like 20-21g of LillGun. 2400 is also a very good bet in your gun and many others in that ball-park on the burn rate charts. Trail Boss is a high filler powder made more for cowboy action shooting and wonít give top velocities, itís a good powder for other uses just not for power type loads.

    General rule, with a shorter barrel you want a faster burn than a longer barrel but you want it slow enough that peak pressure happens near the muzzle.

    In evaluating how a burn rate matches a gun ears and eyes are good tools for ball-parking:
    Too fast a powder will give peak pressure way before the muzzle and a pop like report.
    Too slow a powder blows unburned out the muzzle with a big muzzle flash, blinding in low light.
    I look for more of a cracking report with little flash because I like the peak pressure to happen when the built is in the last 1/3 of the barrel.

    Every gun is itís own animal they may look the same but they are not and revolvers especially so because of the cylinder gap fitment. So load some samples of different powders, (I like to do 10 each/2 loads worth) and head out shooting with your tools . . . eyes, ears (protected of course), note pad, pen, and chronograph if at all possible. To me this kind of testing, adjusting, and learning is what reloading is all about. Remember though, velocity isnít everything . . . you get 340g of hard cast lead moving around 1100fps and it will do about any close up work asked of it so donít get hung up on speed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by travelers View Post
    I shoot a 4.25" .454. I like 4227 so far.
    2400 seems to burn dirty. Starting to try AA#9 next. Tried unique for a while, it seemed to burn dirty also.
    H110 seems to have sharper recoil than 4227.
    Just guessing on my part, but it seems like a faster burn rate would be better in a short barrel. Less muzzle flash?
    Federal 205m primers have worked best for me. 205 would be just as good, I just have a pile of 205m.
    Unique is gonna be way too fast for best power in a 454 but like Bulseye will make some great low cost plinking loads.

    H110/W295 recoils more sharply because its burn rate is very close to perfect so itís pushing the bullet much harder than the others. I replaced H110/W295 with LillGun because it burns very clean but I found in my guns itís slightly better and giving me the same velocity with less pressure. I never tried 4227 because according to Hodgdonís data its running higher peak pressures with less velocities than H110/W295 and LillGun in 45s.
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    If we knew what powder they used we could get an idea handloads.
    http://www.doubletapammo.com/php/cat...roducts_id=148

    Their table show balistics for 7 1/2" and Alaskan barrel lenght
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    You probably will find that the the powder that gives the best velocity in a longer barrel will also give the best velocity in a short barrel. The powders that work well in the 454 such as 296/H110, 2400, 4227, Lil Gun will all give velocities close enough that it won't make any real world difference. Muzzle blast will be worse with some than others but with a 2 1/2" barrel it's going to be bad with any of those loaded near max. Max pressure occures at about the same time the bullet starts to move but slower powders tend to have a higher pressure curve than faster powders over a longer time. ( farther down the barrel) Although a slower powder may not have a beginning pressure as high as a fast powder it can hold a higher average pressure over the in barrel time making for more velocity. When a powder is too slow for a particular load it not only doesn't create much initial pressure but doesn't burn fast enough to keep pressure up during the bullets travel down the tube. Usually the best powder for highest velocity will give best velocity in short or long barrels. A 340gr at 1000fps should be very effective and you should be able to get that velocity or more easily with several of the powders listed. I wouldn't go much faster than 2400 or AA9 but the fun of handloading is finding a load that you like and that works in your gun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    Must be a custom gun huh? What do you got!? I'm looking for a Ruger SRH 454 Cylinder to have put in my 4" 45 Colt Redhawk.
    A SRH with the barrel whacked off.
    I pretty much load it to the 45 colt Redhawk levels. I thought about putting a SRH cylinder on my 4" 45 colt RH also. I've got another 454 SRH, but I'd hate to part it out. And I wouldn't gain much because I don't load it much over the 45 colt loads. But having the option to crank it up is cool.

    ADfields, thanks for the info. Been meaning to try Lil Gun. Is there anything to the cutting of the top strap I've read about????

    Also my unique loads where pretty light plinking loads, just to dirty to suit me.

    I'm going to start paying more attention to the muzzle flash and the sound.

    Thanks, rbuck351, good info.
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    I had some experience with this in a short barrel (2 1/2") Redhawk 41 GNR made by Gary Reeder in Flagstaff. I picked it up in trade and thought it could be a good woods/bear gun for up here (fine custom revolver with top notch work). The 41 GNR is a 44 mag brass necked down to 41. I tried the load data out of his book for 170 gr Sierra jacketed and 210 gr Cast Performance bullets. Max charge of Hod 110 or Win 296 was upwards of 27-28 grains! Muzzle blast would almost singe your eyebrows but recoil was not too bad due to the light bullets. This data out of a 7" barrel would supposedly get like 1700 fps, but my short barrel was lucky to get 1100. I also experienced extreme deviation in velocity of 100-150 fps on all loads tested (probably from unburned powder)?? I probably could have experimented with other powders, but instead got bored with it and traded it off figuring that 41 cal was minimal for up here, especially without some high velocity.
    I wanted one of the Redhawk Alaskans in 454, but until I read some success stories on reloading based on my short barrel experience?? Seriously would like to pick up a 4" Redhawk in 45 and have it fitted with a 454 cylinder. Does anyone know if this can be done??

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    You probably will find that the the powder that gives the best velocity in a longer barrel will also give the best velocity in a short barrel. The powders that work well in the 454 such as 296/H110, 2400, 4227, Lil Gun will all give velocities close enough that it won't make any real world difference.

    Yup, in handguns, I agree the amount of difference from a slightly different burn rate is negligible in real world field use. Any of these powders should get the job done in a 8Ē gun or a 2-ĹĒ gun. But tinkering to find what a gun likes is what handloading is all about for me.

    You did a great job of explaining the burn rate/time curve, thatís what I was getting at but couldnít find the words late last night.


    Quote Originally Posted by travelers View Post
    ADfields, thanks for the info. Been meaning to try Lil Gun. Is there anything to the cutting of the top strap I've read about????
    Quote Originally Posted by travelers View Post

    Also my unique loads where pretty light plinking loads, just to dirty to suit me.

    I havenít had any problems with it at all with flame cutting and have put about 5lbs of it through my S&W 460V. FA says not to use it in their guns but I know two guys that do without issue. The S&W 460s had cutting issues even with H110 early on but it hasnít been an issue Iíve heard about in later guns for some reason. Heating is an issue with LillGun if you put a lot of rounds through in a short time but thatís something most donít want to do with a heavy loaded 454 or 460 even if it werenít such a pricy round.

    Yea Unique and Bullseye are sooty in a big caliber and I think thatís part of why they came out with Trail Boss for the cowboy action guys. I still like them because at around 8g per round it makes a buck go a long way when plinking cans. Iíve not tried Trail Boss yet but here it is a very versatile light load powder even in some rifle calibers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HUNTERKJL View Post
    I wanted one of the Redhawk Alaskans in 454, but until I read some success stories on reloading based on my short barrel experience?? Seriously would like to pick up a 4" Redhawk in 45 and have it fitted with a 454 cylinder. Does anyone know if this can be done??

    I think 4Ē is about the best trade off in 45s for Alaska, short enough to pack but long enough not to waste powder and has a decent sight radius. Iíve heard the SRH 454 cylinder will fit the RH but have never seen it so canít help other than to say I think your barking up the right tree.
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    Yes the SRH 454 cylinder conversion can be done on the Redhawk. The 454 cylinder will drop in to the crane. I have talked to a couple guys online. I believe the timing is fine but headspace needs set. I've been looking for a 454 cylinder. I screwed up on an auction last spring and missed one. Here's an email I got from Bowen after inquiring.

    "We have done a few .454 cylinder installations on standard Redhawks and they work as well as they do in the Supers--cylinders are a bit limber for some loads. We do make our own 5-shot parts--you can see the various installations at our website catalog in the Ruger DA revolvers section.

    Sincerely yours,

    Hamilton S. Bowen
    Bowen Classic Arms Corp."

    Whitworth here I think actually has a SRH 454 cylinder and a 4" Redhawk with a smith now. He had a 454 SRH big bored. I tried to get him to sell me the cylinder but he's doing what I want to do. I've seen pics of a few of these conversions. I'm thinkin 454 cylinder and mag-na-port, then I'd have a nice companion to the 454 levergun. Time will tell...

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    I really like 21gr lil gun with my 350gr .453 soft cast boolits (5.5" 454 Raging Bull) pushing just about 1100FPS, fairly accurately as well.

    For the jacketed 325gr .451s I use 20gr, and it pushes out there 1250ish FPS, and is VERY accurate.

    I have read about guys having problems with the heat that LG generates over many rounds... but I have not experienced it. I typically shoot up to 50 rounds or so in a session, and it has never gotten too hot to touch. It burns cleaner than most of the other powders I've used, andkeeps accurate charges with a cheap dispenser...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    Yea Unique and Bullseye are sooty in a big caliber and I think thatís part of why they came out with Trail Boss for the cowboy action guys. I still like them because at around 8g per round it makes a buck go a long way when plinking cans. Iíve not tried Trail Boss yet but here it is a very versatile light load powder even in some rifle calibers.
    The only problem I've had with Trail Boss is getting it mixed up with my cheerios .
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