Any trouble with 45 colt loads?

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the fatman

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Mar 23, 2009
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Read an old internet article that included a reference to blowing up guns with light 45 colt loads. Anyone know of any problems with 45 colt loads of any kind? I've decided to shoot mostly 45 colt loads out of my Alaskan.
 

c.r.

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as far as light loads, i would think the #1 risk woud be when loading w/ H-110 or 296. There are warnings in just about every manual i own about loading these powders below the minimum suggested.

It is the only powder I'm aware of that is dangerous with light charges.

I believe the cause is H-110/296 when loaded light, it doesn't fill the case. then when the loaded cartridge is in the cylinder all the powder falls to the side of the case, creating more surface area for the primer to ignite...... this results in the extreme pressure that can damage the gun. this is just the way it was explained to me. sounds logical to my simple mind

or light loads could be so light as to not push the bullet out the barrel and then another shot fired and stacked up on top of the first bullet. I guess it's possible that could drive pressures high and damage the gun as well.


~c.r.
 

J Miller

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the fatman":9vk2o7ir said:
Read an old internet article that included a reference to blowing up guns with light 45 colt loads. Anyone know of any problems with 45 colt loads of any kind? I've decided to shoot mostly 45 colt loads out of my Alaskan.

I think you're referring to the theory of "detonation" with light loads. It's a farce instigated by users of real light loads to excuse their lack of care. In every case where someone has claimed the light load detonated, what actually happened was there was a double powder charge or two bullets seated in the cartridge in a progressive loading machine.

About the only way you might blow up a gun with a light load is if you get a bullet stuck in the barrel with one, then shoot a full charge load afterwords.

Shooting .45 Colts out of your Alaskan won't cause any troubles at all. Just use common sense in picking your loads and have fun.

Joe
 

Yosemite Sam

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It was my understanding that powders expect a certain amount of containment or "pressure resistance" as they burn. If they don't get this they can basically explode instead of burning real fast as they're supposed to do. This is my understanding of the theory of detonation due to too low a charge.

As J Miller says though, I've heard very few convincing arguments as to it actually happening. There are warnings about going below the minimum on some powders, which I respect, but I too wonder if the whole thing is (hah) overblown. After all, isn't the point of smokeless powder that it doesn't explode, but burn real fast? As opposed to say, black powder.

-- Sam
 

Tenbore

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To my knowledge, "detonation" has never been able to be reproduced in in any controlled testing. I have used many light loads and have never experienced anything close to it.
 

c.r.

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Yosemite Sam":t4sypnyu said:
After all, isn't the point of smokeless powder that it doesn't explode, but burn real fast? As opposed to say, black powder.

-- Sam

something "blows up" guns. which i believe is the result of more pressure than the gun is able to handle. So why smokeless may not explode, it does generate pressure. Too much pressure and kablooey.

in my post up above about h-110/296 this is the way it i understand it. take lets say 24 grains of h-110, pour it into a case, seat a bullet. The only portion of powder that is exposed to the source of ignition, is the suface area of the powder sitting directly above the primer. that flame burns up the powder as it travel through the charge. we are talking about hairs of a second, but not all the powder burns at once. i kind of picture it as an extremely quick burning fuse.

however now take let's say 10 grains and load up the same cartridge. when that cartridge is laying on it's side in the cylinder that powder is not packed from end to end of the cartridge. it now only fills up the lower half of the cartridge for the entire length of the case. The result is we now have an exposed surface area the length of the case up to the base of the bullet. I understand that this allows more powder to burn at the instant ingition is provided. resulting in higher pressure and then kablooey.

i'm not sure if any of what i said is correct, so take it with a grain of salt. it was explained to me this way. It makes sense to me, but that doesn't mean it is this simple or that there aren't more things going on inside that case.
 

Sonnytoo

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c.r.":namufc75 said:
I believe the cause is H-110/296 when loaded light as to not push the bullet out the barrel and then another shot fired and stacked up on top of the first bullet. I guess it's possible that could drive pressures high and damage the gun as well.
~c.r.

Forgive me for massaging your quote. I changed it into just part of your message.

I am not aware of high pressures when H110 is loaded light.
I am aware of my light load of H110, which was about 7-8% lighter than the minimum reco'd load on Hodgdon.com. Only the primer went off, driving the bullet just into the barrel and stacked up a wad of unburned powder directly behind the bullet.
About two weeks after I did this little trick, I saw pix of another fellow who experienced the same thing. Of course, we were both in error.
Hodgdon say on their website to NOT go any lighter than 3% below their recommended loads. There is no doubt.
One downside for me is that I've gotten kind of wary of loading H110. I am using other powders that are quicker-burning, as the great majority of my shooting is at paper with 800-1000 fps loads.
 

Yosemite Sam

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c.r. I understand what you're saying, but feel that if that were the case (powder placement within the case being that sensitive) I would think any powder that didn't fill the case would potentially exhibit this behavior.

For instance, a mid range load I use for .44 Special is 4.7gr of HP-38 under a 240 gr slug. HP-38 is a fairly dense powder, and doesn't fill the case but maybe 1/4 of the way. This load is still going to lay flat on the cartridge wall when loaded into the gun.

The same load weight of Trail Boss half fills the case, but that's about the least dense powder you can get.

Powder placement sensitivity (I think there's a more concise term for it) is a big deal for a lot of shooters, and they try everything from fluffier powders to poly fillers to get a full case or compressed load, specifically for its effect on accuracy/consistency. But I've never heard of it being a factor in detonation, if such a thing exists at all...

And of course, I too am talking out my butt, so take it all with a pound of salt or so... ;)

-- Sam
 

c.r.

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Sam, excellent points. My first thought was that the burn rates might have something to do with the theory i presented. Thinking slower buring powders such as h-110 would be prone to what I suggested.

So I looked up a burn rate chart on the web. Just a quick glance showed 4227 and H4227 with slower burn rates than H-110 and 296. Yet I have never heard of the warning about "too light of loads" when using those powders.

I'm stumped. :?

~c.r.
 

pvtschultz

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I've had problems with Lil'Gun and light charges. I was using the starting charge of Lil'Gun under a 250 gr LRNFP and CCI350 primers. Some fired fine, but many others either had a noticable delay or one just went pop lodgding the bullet in the barrel. I now know the land and groove diameter of my barrel, but found out the hard way.

I use IMR-4227 all the way down to 19 grains under a 250 gr boolit and it always ignites effortlessly. I really like 20 grains (actually, my Blackhawk does) which is a very accurate mid-pressure load.
 

gerryb158

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There have been many comments and warnings about light loads with H110 or W296 and although I've never loaded this powder on the low end I do believe the warnings. I sort of doubt that the position of the powder in the case is the reason light loads may cause higher than safe pressures, more likely I think it is the chemical composition of the powder. Other powders, Unique and Bullseye in particular, can be loaded very light, 2 or 3 grains, and still "function" quite well. I've done this for bore lapping in a .44 Spec and .44 Mag. Even with 2.0 gr. of Bullseye the .44 cal 250 gr. bullet leaves the barrel (of a revolver) with considerable force. I'm not sure this would work in a rifle but I wouldn't put anything in front I didn't want a hole in. A primer (no powder) will almost certainly stick a bullet in the barrel and fireing a loaded round behind it would certainly be dangerous. IMO this fault and that of a double charge of powder are how guns are damaged. If you are relatively new to reloading learn to be absolutely sure of how much powder you load - each and every cartridge. Gerry
 

Bucks Owin

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Why would one want to use light charges of W-296 anyway? There are more suitable powders for less velocity. Me, I'll heed the warning.....Dennis
 

Sharp Shooter

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Bucks Owin":3pdya76w said:
Why would one want to use light charges of W-296 anyway? There are more suitable powders for less velocity. Me, I'll heed the warning.....Dennis
Yep. Me too.
 

BIgMuddy

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I really believe the warnings with H110/WW296 are due to the lighter loads not igniting fully. The result may be a stuck bullet as was said.

These powders are also pretty sensitive to heat and cold. I had some loads with 454 Casull that were loaded as max according to the Hodgdon manual that when fired in very cold conditions made more of a "pop" than a "bang". The ammo was very inconsistent.

H110/296 are always best if kept close to top end loads, and use other powders if wanting to go milder. I too like 4227, and that 20 grain load shoots great in my 45's.
 

Rick Courtright

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BIgMuddy":1f25ract said:
I really believe the warnings with H110/WW296 are due to the lighter loads not igniting fully. The result may be a stuck bullet as was said.

Hi,

That's the warning as I read it in the Winchester books dating back to the '70s... the newer books I have are less detailed.

They warned of squibs, and suggested minimum 90% loading density along w/ their "Do not reduce" warnings. They also suggested a "Winchester or magnum" primer and a heavy crimp.

I've experienced ONE "funny" load w/ 296 (in a .357): lead bullet, proper charge for the bullet weight and style, but I'd used a standard Winchester instead of a magnum primer. It sounded "light" but the bullet did clear the barrel. I found it later about 15 ft in front of the firing line w/ a big "glob" of unburned powder stuck to the base of the bullet.

A change to magnum primers seems to have made that experience a thing of the past...

Rick C
 

Bucks Owin

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Yeah, I've not heard of W-296 "detonating" in low doses, squibs are the issue. The powder I associate with detonation is 4831. Even then I think the labs have not had much luck making the "event" occur. I may be wrong....Dennis
 

Rclark

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Not much to add ... other than just pick a powder that is suited for the job (there are lots to choose from now a days) . For example, I use Trail Boss for light loads... It is 'well' suited for that. Use Unique for the medium stuff ... and then 2400 for the hot stuff. Now that is just what I use. Point is use what ever powder kicks your fancy ... but do pick an appropriate powder for the job :) . Then there isn't any 'worries' of detonation, or stuck slugs, etc....
 

badgerrr

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Dec 9, 2002
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Many years ago, I attempted to put together some very light/quiet loads for the 45LC. Wanted something to take grouse and rabbits while deer/elk/bear hunting without scaring everything outta the country.

Was using Unique and 230gr cast bullets. Wish I could remember the charge I settled on - but it was quite low. Decided to give up on the idea fairly quickly after getting so much case failure. Often cases would split from stem to stern.

Hadn't heard of the light load detonation phenom when I started my experiment. But ultimately my research turned it up; and my case problem confirmed it good enough for me.
 

Driftwood Johnson

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It was my understanding that powders expect a certain amount of containment or "pressure resistance" as they burn. If they don't get this they can basically explode instead of burning real fast as they're supposed to do. This is my understanding of the theory of detonation due to too low a charge.

Howdy

No, that is incorrect. Without any containment, modern progressive Smokeless powders do not explode, they burn much slower, with a lot of sparks and flames, but they do not explode. Progressive powders need containment to operate properly and generate pressure. The more pressure they generate, the faster they burn.

Here is a completely different theory, the one I subscribe to.

The theory is called Premature Shot Start. It has nothing to do with powder position.

Most powders require around 5000 psi before they begin burning consistently. Under 5000 psi they can burn in fits and starts, they can even go out. But far less than 5000 psi can push the bullet out of the case. Just a primer can push a bullet out of the case.

The theory goes like this. With a very small powder charge, the powder may not get a good burn going. It may start burning, and develop enough pressure to push the bullet out of the case. But once the bullet has moved, the internal volume of the burn chamber (the inside of the case plus however far the bullet has moved) may have increased significantly.

We all know that a well balanced powder charge will have enough powder in the case so that even as the bullet moves down the barrel, and the volume behind it keeps increasing, the powder will continue burning fast enough that pressure will continue to rise, despite the increasing volume. But in some cases, if the powder charge is small enough, and the pressure drops a whole lot below 5000 psi, the bullet may actually stop moving a short distance down the barrel. Once this happens, if the powder is still burning, albeit fitfully, the burn chamber has suddenly become finite, it is no longer expanding. So the burning powder will continue to generate exhaust gasses. This will in turn raise the pressure.

As I said earlier, Smokeless powders burn progressively, in other words the more pressure there is, the faster they burn. In the case I have outlined, the stuck bullet will at this point stop acting as a projectile and it will instead become a barrel obstruction. Pressure will rise rapidly as the powder continues to burn progressively behind the barrel obstruction. Pressure may rise so quickly that the bullet literally cannot get out of the way fast enough. Remember, it's not like when the bullet was back in the case, and pressure started building, this time pressure builds much more rapidly and the inertia of the stuck bullet keeps it from getting going fast enough. If there is enough powder left to generate enough pressure, a burst chamber can result. This would all happen so fast just a microsecond or so, that the shooter would not be able to detect that the bullet had stopped before the gun blew up.

We used to talk a lot about this in Cowboy Action Shooting circles, where a lot of guys shoot very light loads. There has not been much discussion of it lately, but this is one reason it is always recommended to use a heavy crimp with light loads, to retard the bullet leaving the case a millisecond or so and allow pressure to build enough that the bullet keeps movinig.

In one of his books Mike Venturino writes about blowing up a fine old Colt one day with some light loads. He went back and pulled every bullet in the lot, and weighed every powder charge. He did not find two bullets in any case, and he did not find any double charges. It is entirely possible he somehow managed to double charge a single case, but Mike is not careless, and I really doubt he did so.
 

andyo5

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May 9, 2008
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Max H110 charge for a 158g bullet in .357 is listed as 15.5 grains.
I have shot hundreds of rounds with 14.5 grains. This is a 6.5% reduction in charge. No kaboom, no squibs, and no damaged cases.
Squibs are the potential problem if you go too low. With a really low charge in a large case, you could double charge accidentally and not even notice it.
 

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