my take on +P loads....

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BearHawk 357

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Feb 18, 2010
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First, I would like to say that I fully understand why a guy would want to put a small block 350 into his S-10 pickup truck. Because it's a project and because it's cool, fast and loud. This is America and that's just how we do it sometimes. I get it. I don't want to trash people for wanting to go big, because I understand the notion.

However, here is my take on the use of heavy loads in my guns. If I'm shooting my 22lr single six and want to amp things up a bit then I just pull out my service six. If I'm shooting my SBH Hunter and want to amp things up a bit then I pull out my 460V (460 S&W). I like to fire light loads for each of the individual levels of power. I just move up the chain (frame/cylinder size) when I want to fire a bigger load. Keeping things light serves me with tons of benefits.

People always say that Rugers are tough and that you can't break them. I agree with the first part of that statement. I shot the snot out of a 44 Mag, SBH using nothing but heavy loads before I changed my general way of thinking. I don't have the exact round count or the exact formulas for all of the different loadings that were used. I just know that I used tons of the big stuff and for many years. Eventually, the cylinder developed a massive amount of end-play (even under full lock-up). I also noticed a drop off in accuracy in addition to the sloppy cylinder. There were other issues that developed as well. However, I want to talk more about loadings rather than gun mechanics right now.

When loads are light, flinching is less. When loads are light, shots are usually not as loud. Light loads are easier on our guns. Our brass lasts longer with lighter loads. Flame cutting, of the top strap, happens more often with heavy loading. Light loads are safer. It would be refreshing to hear more about how low a case can be loaded while still remaining funtional rather than the other way around. Everything has a left and right lateral limitation. Why is there so much focus on just one end of the spectrum?

When somebody tells me a story about how they shot a deer at 400 yards away with a 300 Win Mag, I usually whip out my blackberry and show them some pics of the 10-pointer that I shot with my 40 pound recurve at 12 yards. More times than none people actually see how the light and simple is more impressive than the big and heavy. I shot a deer last season with a 460 S&W. Sounds big, huh? Well, I was pushing a 300 grain cast bullet with 11 grains of trail boss powder (about 1/2 the power of factory hornady loads). See, no need to max out my 45 colts to reach this power level. Being happy with medium power and lower, has proven itself to be more advantageous than taking everything to the max.

Now, there are some circumstances where I will run heavy loads but not many. Sometimes you just have a particular gun that will only shoot well with full-house loads. Heavy loads should be used if hunting medium size game with a 357 etc. (including +P for personal protection) and for when you just feel like making a big boom. I just wanted to take a moment to talk about the use of lighter loads, since light loads don't seem to get much play in magazines/forums these days. What do you guys think about the subject? I'm sure that there are tons of different views, out there, regarding this topic.
 

Jimbo357mag

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So. Florida
I pretty much agree with everything you are saying as it applies to magnum cartridges. I have been reloading for several years now and I find I enjoy shooting the most when I am shooting loads that have the powder charge reduced 10 - 20 percent below Max. With the copper plated bullets I use this works out real well. The guns appreciate it too. I feel like I am getting more bang for the buck. An added benefit is that when reloading there is more room for minor variations in charge weight, even though I am very careful with that.

With other cartridges like 38 special, 44 special and 45 colt I can see the desire to increase the pressure and performance a little. This as we know really depends on the gun and I don't want to generalize or start a controversy so I will say no moe. :D

...Jimbo
 

mrkti

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 19, 2010
Messages
13
Nice thing about handloading. You can load target/plinking loads.

Never shot 44 spec in my 44 mag, never shot 38 spec in my .357's, and now never will shoot 32 mag in my new .327. Just reduced loads.

Also just got an LCR (have and LCP) ... pretty snappy with +p's, another example of maybe standard factory loads will be fine for CCW.

John
 

Sonnytoo

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BearHawk 357":2kn97zwn said:
It would be refreshing to hear more about how low a case can be loaded while still remaining funtional rather than the other way around.

Many of us feel that with a .44 or .45, and approx 240-250 grain hard-cast LFN or WFN, much hunting can be accomplished between 900-1200 fps. This will be appropriate for maybe 95% of the larger stuff we're hunting.
Sonnytoo
 

Snake45

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Great topic, great thread.

I agree, why beat a gun to death with max loads, especially when you don't really need them most of the time?

For the last few years, 90%+ of my shooting has been with .22LRs. I have .22s that match my main centerfires as closely as possible (1911, AR, Ruger 77/22, Browning P35, Smith K-22, etc.) so shooting them is exactly like shooting the "real" guns except for the recoil. And the ammo bill, of course. I'm still buying .22LR ammo for about what CF primers for reloading alone cost.
 

COR

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I also have loaded guns very heavy but SNAKE45 hit it on the head for me. I love 22's and although I enjoy the hell outta a good 44Spl I still will have to say that the 22 is my FUN GUN of all time.

Interestingly the industry seems to agree with Snake also since all I am seeing is a lot of centerfire "black rifles" being chambered for 22LR. I LOVE IT!
 

Snake45

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COR":26i63ka2 said:
I also have loaded guns very heavy but SNAKE45 hit it on the head for me. I love 22's and although I enjoy the hell outta a good 44Spl I still will have to say that the 22 is my FUN GUN of all time.

Interestingly the industry seems to agree with Snake also since all I am seeing is a lot of centerfire "black rifles" being chambered for 22LR. I LOVE IT!
I was really ahead of the curve on that. I've been accumulating "matching" .22s for my centerfires for over 30 years now. Nice to see everyone else catching up! :)

I DO enjoy shooting .45, 9mm, .357, 5.56, etc. Just can't afford to shoot them as much as I'd like, even reloads. My typical shooting session is 1200 or so rounds. Last year I shot over 26,000 rounds, and have shot over 75K since 2007.
 

wavehopr

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Knoxville
I agree with the OP also. I shoot single-action almost exclusively. I have a Ruger .22 SS, .357Mag BH OM, .44Mag BH OM, and BFR 45-70. I shoot very conservative loads and if I need more power, I move up one caliber. If I run into anything that I can't handle with my BFR, even with trapdoor loads, I must be away from planet earth.
 

CraigC

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Everything in moderation. Some might get the impression from recent discussions that I am a recoil junkie, nothing could be further from the truth. My most-used cartridge is the .22LR and I burn them up by the pallet. One of my favorite centerfires is the lowly .44Colt. I rarely run my .44Mag's at full pressure and keep my Dillon setup for a moderate 1050-1100fps load. This is my general purpose sixgun and rifle load that gives me another 300fps from the longer tubes. It will do near anything I would need doing.

That said, I think a lot of folks limit themselves within imaginary lines. Some folks just have a need to pigeon-hole everything. A place for everything and everything in its place. I prefer to be a little more flexible and fluid. Like the recent .44Spl discussion, if the guns can handle more than SAAMI pressure standards, take advantage of that strength if it serves your wants and needs. Same with the .45Colt, I see no problem in having several different strength levels with loads appropriate to certain guns. We're at a point where there are lots of cartridges that were developed in the blackpowder era that are chambered in newer (and stronger) guns. You either load for the guns differently, or you develop new cartridges. We've all seen how folks react to new cartridges (like all the uproar when the .17HMR, .327Federal and .480Ruger were introduced) so what is left? In general, I think shooters should be more open-minded whether it be new loadings for old cartridges or new cartridges in old platforms.

I also despise the term "hot load". It is far too ambiguous a term to ever cross the lips of an experienced shooter and handloader.
 

AzRebel

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I can agree to some degree with much of what the OP said. There's a lot to be appreciated with light loads, and for many purposes.

That said, I can also appreciate the need and use of +p ammo in many cartridges.

Let me start by saying that I do NOT advocate loading cartridges (magnum or otherwise) to unsafe levels for your firearm.

I also don't recommend heavy loads for someone who's only going to shoot the ammo at a range. There's simply no need for it in most cases.

But even the OP said that +P is considered "ok" for SD purposes.

And there are other uses, as well.

One has to remember that some cartridges were started as black powder cartridges. Steels used in firearms have been improved since then, and cartridges invented later are generally designed around higher pressures.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that new(er) firearms that are strong enough to handle "modern" pressures necessarily have to be loaded at the old BP levels. The .38 special and .45 Colt standard loads are generally at those old BP levels. +p ammo allows newer firearms chambered for these fine old cartridges to be used at their full potential.

My EDC revolver is a +p rated S&W airweight .38. I don't shoot +p ammo through it full time, and in fact my facorite "range load" is 3 grains of Bullseye under a 148 grain wadcutter, but I do carry +p ammo in it for SD, and I shoot enough of it through this revolver to know what to expect from it.

My usual "field revolver" is a Ruger Vaquero (the full sized model). My favorite range load is a 255 gr cast bullet over 5.5 grains of Bullseye, but I carry loads that are a lot heavier than that for hunting purposes. If I'm inclined, or forced to shoot a bear, I want to finish the job quickly and humanely. A 300 grain bullet at 1200 FPS or so gives me more confidance for such needs than the same bullet at 700 fps.

Sure, I could buy a .460 S&W, or a .454 Casull, but I really don't want either of them. I like the .45 Colt, and see no reason not to load it to safe levels that allow it to better do whatever job needs done.

Yes, I realize that there may come a time when I'll need to have it worked over to restore the tollerances to what they should be. So far though, I've shot maybe 5000 rounds through it, with something like 1000-1500 of them being heavy loads, and it's still as tight as t he day I started shooting it.

In fact, this particular revolver is so tight that I usually have to remove the cylinder from time to time when shooting light loads to clean the cylinder face of carbon build-up. I can feel it start to drag on the forcing cone with the light loads, but I've never had the problem while shooting the heavy ones.

So as long as safety isn't compromised, I see no reason to not use a cartridge to it's full potential, when that full potential is (or might be) needed.

And I see no reason to buy a .460 S&W to shoot load levels I can reach safely with a well built .45 Colt.

Daryl
 

BearHawk 357

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If I'm inclined, or forced to shoot a bear, I want to finish the job quickly and humanely. A 300 grain bullet at 1200 FPS or so gives me more confidance for such needs than the same bullet at 700 fps.


While 300 grains at 1200 fps does indeed sound like great bear "medicine" I rate my confidence level, in regards to hunting, by one single criteria. That is: Can I hit my mark? I would rather hit a deer, in the heart, 999 times out of 1000, with a .223 rather than blast the ankles off of an animal, with a 12 gauge slug, just because I felt that it gave me a false sense of confidence. Most handgun hunters will state that shot placement is probably more important than "power-housing."

Another thing that I have learned about handgun hunting is that penetration trumps expansion. Who cares if tons of internal damage is created, by a hollow point, if you only have one hole (drain) in the game animal and you never find it due to running out of blood while tracking it. My new way of thinking is to shoot something light enough in recoil to be accurate while keeping the projectile solid enough to simply just pass through. "Finishing the job" as it pertains to hunting deals with recovery and not just bulk firepower. I have a feeling that more game would be recovered if more hunters used this basic philosophy.

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Why would someone feel the need to buy and shoot a 460 at low power when all they have to do is ramp up their 45 colts? Ummm....are you kidding? Heavy gun + light load = pleasure to shoot. It makes more sense, to me, to shoot guns at their lower pressure levels rather than at their upper limitations....no matter what caliber is being discussed.
 

demo_slug

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Dec 15, 2009
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so if you are going to "grab the right gun" why not grab a 45colt if you are shooting reduced loads with your 460v?

in my older Vaquero, I generally shoot a [email protected] about 1000 FPS. which by the numbers is a +p round. I think its a pleasure to shoot. I also mix in shooting much hotter loads. the hot loads have helped build up my recoil tolerance and reduces my flinching. to me, getting that much range with one gun increase my skill level with that gun.
 

Ruber

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Sep 24, 2008
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San Diego, CA
BearHawk 357":qrnf72x4 said:
However, here is my take on the use of heavy loads in my guns. If I'm shooting my 22lr single six and want to amp things up a bit then I just pull out my service six. If I'm shooting my SBH Hunter and want to amp things up a bit then I pull out my 460V (460 S&W). I like to fire light loads for each of the individual levels of power. I just move up the chain (frame/cylinder size) when I want to fire a bigger load. Keeping things light serves me with tons of benefits.

What if you want something between the Single Six and the Service Six?

A 38 Special +P is simply another cartridge designation for a revolver cartridge that is in between the 38 Special and a .357 Magnum. If I want something lighter and more mello than the .357, I might choose that one.
 

Quietdood

Bearcat
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Oct 24, 2008
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I'll leave the the technicalities to the members who are more knowledgeable. I do think the topic is interesting and unique. I'd like to reload one day myself.
 

BearHawk 357

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so if you are going to "grab the right gun" why not grab a 45colt if you are shooting reduced loads with your 460v?

Because a 45 colt round has to "jump" a pretty big gap when shooting one out of the longer cylinder of a 460. Most agree that for best results you usually shoot the longest round, out of all of the sizes, that the cylinger chambers. Guys often pack corn meal on top of their black powder revolver loads just to position the round ball as close to the front of the cylinder as possible. This saves powder, reduces wear-and-tear and usually increases accuracy.

I found a 460 load that hits my mark with minimal wear and tear on my gun. These facts earn it the "right gun for the job" distinction.

Now with that being said...I can also say that when I am searching for a 45 colt load for deer hunting, I don't try to make it act like a larger loading. I don't try to turn it into a 44 mag, or a light 454 nor do I try to hop it up to act like a light 460. I leave it as a medium power 45 colt and I practice with it. Shot placement and bullet selection mean a lot more to me than hearing loss, flinching, sore hands and excessive gun wear.
 

the fatman

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Quietdood":1k3hfw9g said:
I'll leave the the technicalities to the members who are more knowledgeable. I do think the topic is interesting and unique. I'd like to reload one day myself.
:D Yep it will give you some more flexibility. And a certain sense of pride in making your own. Though I do think it is nice when people are rich enough to buy factory ammo.
 

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