44-40 Handloads, Strain Gauge Testing

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SavvyJack posted this 23 December 2018

I know this can be a controversial topic but I wanted to share what I have experienced so far.
The following information could be completely inaccurate so use at own risk, it is intended for discussion purposes only.

For quite some time now I have wanted to get to the bottom of all my questions, all those things that didn't seem to make sense. I have learned that many of my questions meet resistance on the forums but a person will never know if they don't ask.

First and foremost, Lyman's 49th handloading manual lists 44-40 high pressure loads and lists rifles that are safe and unsafe for such loads. I urge you to go get one, or if you already have one, go take a look at page 299 and page 300.

Second, Winchester and Remington manufactured high pressure loads. Winchester from 1903 to 1938. Pressures change during these years but high nonetheless. They were designed specifically for the Winchester 92 but of course later could be used in any strong action rifle, never to be used in pistols or the 73'.

To step back for just a second, when Winchester started using Smokeless loads back 1895, the cartridge box label was RED and specifically noted for use in the Winchester 73'....BUT NOT FOR PISTOLS. Meaning early Winchester smokeless loads were not to be used in those early black powder frame revolvers. However, the High Velocity loads were NOT FOR USE in the 73' or Pistols. Just wanted to make that clear.

To continue...the strain gauge. Really not much to say here because I am still learning. Since there is not much published out there. I decided after many years of pondering and reading to purchase the Pressuretrace II basic program. My doubts were that the user had to enter a known pressure for a given cartridge...and they use PSI rather than the typically published CUP. This created a problem for me but I finally over came the doubt. SAAMI lists the max pressures for both methods...PSI and CUP. We all should already now that those are 11,000psi and 13,000cup.

One of the reasons I started this whole mess is because of Winchester's modern neutered hunting loads that have only given me 1,055fps...even slower than advertised 1,190fps. This boiled my blood so for years I played with Lyman's data. 

Parallel, I also played with black powder loads. Although messy and demanding they produced more powerful and even accurate results, which John Kort proved so many times, than published and factory max loads.

Finally Buffalo Bore manufactured a powerful, original ballistic cartridge that they claim remains under SAAMI max pressures. Now I had my missing link. Even though I don't know what the actual pressures are that they tested, I used their loads for my "Control". (Testing OAT was 55deg F)

When I loaded up the Pressuretrace data, entered all of the barrel dimensions, measurements, etc I still had my doubts. When I made the first few shots, my doubts dwindled down to a slight encouragement. The results were an average group of 12,900psi. But that is 1,600psi above MAX. Well, it could be and that is not really the problem since the results were based on data I entered. Since the factory load is loaded to below or at SAAMI max, I corrected the data by entering a minus correction of 1,600psi bringing the Control down to 11,300psi. No matter if this is correct or not, all other shots tested will fall into a greater or less pressure that Buffalo Bore's factory loads. This is the information I needed.

I soon discovered that all those Cowboy factory loads won't even register with my 1 1/4" thick barrel all would be less than 6,000psi. Winchester factory hunting loads came in as expected, well under SAAMI max pressures but higher than the weak cowboy loads. Two separate tests of 10 shots each resulted in both averages at 1,055fps. One pressure result avg was 6,594psi and the other was 6,762. Consistent...even if consistently incorrect!  

Thus my next step was to try Lyman's both starting loads and max loads with what powders I had IMR4227, Unique and 2400,...primers and the bullets listed in the manual as well as the case and AOL lengths. I made ten tested using those published loads. 

All but one Group I rifle loads were between 8,130psi and 9,389psi. One came in at 11,363psi

All Group II rifle loads came in between 12,604psi and 17,837psi. All of those Group II loads Lyman published as 19,000+ CUP....and those were not the highest. The highest is a Red Dot (427098) load of 21,900cup. One Lyman Group II load gave me 1,672fps/15,618psi avg putting it well inside the 1903-1938 High Velocity (22,000cup) category.

 

Including Black Powder Loads, I'll get to those shortly, I documented 43 tests @ 10 shots per group for 430 shots. Using Trailboss, Unique, Reloder 7, H4198, 2400, KiK FFFG, Skirmish FFFG and Swiss FFG.

All but one black powder loads were between 6,043 and 8,843psi. One group using Original balloon semi-head cases produced a surprised 14,100 avg psi

Several smokeless powder 1,284fps and 1,348fps loads produced less than 10,000psi while most, up to 1,586fps loads came in below 13,700psi.

My favorite and most accurate load @ 100 yards that grouped 4", clocked 1,400fps...came in below 12,000psi...well below most Lyman's published Group II loads. 

I had absolutely not the first case malfunction or case damage. During all of my some 3,000 high pressure shots over the past 10 years, I only found one case with a horizontal crack close to the mouth. Not even sure it was from the HV shots, not to mention the weird non traditional crack...but found nonetheless.

Special tanks to Ed Harris and the late John Kort for their support/encouragement through these years.

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RicinYakima posted this 23 December 2018

Thank you very much for your post. I have copied and saved it for my friends that shoot 44 WCF. It was ten years well spent, especially if you publish an article in The Fouling Shot.

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Larry Gibson posted this 23 December 2018

savvyjack

What firearm are you using the PressureTrace on?

What location over the chamber did you put the strain gauge?

Picture?

Would be interesting to get together sometime and runs some tests with both your PressureTrace and my Oehler M43 at the same time(?).

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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SavvyJack posted this 23 December 2018

Larry, all my information is on the website. Here is the link. Has photos etc..

https://www.44winchestercenterfirecartridges.com/pressure-testing

https://www.44winchestercenterfirecartridges.com/single-post/2018/11/06/PressureTrace-II

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SavvyJack posted this 23 December 2018

Some videos

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Larry Gibson posted this 23 December 2018

SavvyJack

An interesting test "firearm"!  Certainly seems to work well. Excellent write ups.  Thanks.

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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Ed Harris posted this 23 December 2018

Excellent report.

I know you have fired "the RL7 load," I was wondering how it compared in your test platform to the published (old) Hercules pressures (which were c.u.p.)?

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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SavvyJack posted this 23 December 2018

I only tried one 240gr cast bullet with Alliants old load data. My 10 shot group registered an average pressure of 9,761psi which puts it right in there with all other "published" loads. About 15% below SAAMI max. Nearly all of my Lyman published results came in about 15% below SAAMI max pressures.

If I increase the pressure up 15% then Buffalo Bore's 44-40 "Heavy" comes in 15% over SAAMI max pressure, conflicting with their published data. https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=513

A little "extra" Reloder 7 and the 240gr results in about a 25% increase above SAAMI max @ 15,279psi. Most of the "a little extra" Reloder 7 for a variety of 200gr lead and jacketed bullets resulted in pressures between 2% to 15% depending on that extra little bit used. Favoring the Jacketed bullets. Ed, email heading your way

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Ed Harris posted this 24 December 2018

Thanks, for the .xls sheet, VERY helpful.  I expect some of my Ruger and Marlin loads are over 20,000 psi.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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SavvyJack posted this 25 December 2018

It was brought to my attention that one thought as to why the semi-balloon head cases resulted in a greater pressure was maybe because of the thinner brass at the base area. It is my understanding that case brass accounts for retaining 7% of chamber pressures. Food for thought.....? It was suggested that in order to maybe prove this was to dissect 10 factory cartridges previously tested and insert the components into the semi-balloon head cases and see what happens. It was said that the pressure should decrease but that would be opposite of what happened with 40gr of black powder? Brings on more questions. 

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Larry Gibson posted this 26 December 2018

Savvyjack

Not sure where the "case brass accounts for retaining 7% of chamber pressures" comes from.  It may be the case in a particular cartridge at a particular pressure but as a general rule it is incorrect.  Modern brass handgun cartridge cases require 5,000 to 7,000 psi +/- of pressure to obturate and seal the against the chamber walls.  Many cases with low pressure loads do not obturate at all which is why there is blow back of expanding gases between the case and chambers. 

Unless the case obturates against the chamber wall with sufficient additional pressure there will be not "strain" for your gauge to measure.  The thicker and/or harder the brass is the more pressure it can hold against obturation and thus the less pressure is exerted against the chamber wall.  The thinner and or softer the brass the less psi is needed to expand/obturate it and thus the more pressure is exerted against the chamber wall.

If you "dissect 10 factory cartridges previously tested and insert the components into the semi-balloon head cases" and the pressure is less then the BP pressure reading was probably correct.  If the pressure reading is equal to or more than that of the original factory load then the higher higher BP pressure reading is probabanly due to the thinner weaker ballon head cases.  You would be just reading the pressure that the modern brass was containing with it's BP load.

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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SavvyJack posted this 26 December 2018

I have them loaded up with BP for a second test. Once I shoot those, and if the pressure about the same [I had to use a different powder] I may try the smokeless factory components.

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Larry Gibson posted this 26 December 2018

Excellent plan, looking forward to the test results.

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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