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Real-world reloading and its implications.

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Neil Winston, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    I was wandering around in a recent Magnum Shot thread (I’m a sucker for the paranormal and that thread has it, in spades!) and posted that when I want to load an ounce and an eighth of shot for singles just put a 31 bushing in my 118 chargebar, pour in some Red Dot, and go on about my reloading. I was told, in so many words, that that was not being nearly precise enough. It seems that the adjustable charge-bars were the only thing to use if you wanted to do the job right.

    I think that’s nonsense unless you are very seriously chronographing your loads way more carefully than most do it and want some particular speed (and aren’t deluding yourself that factory loads go the speed the box says.) Unless you are in that rarified group of expert and experienced chronographers I’m sure you are better off with bushings. Put one in and if it drops the book value, leave it. If it’s heavier, put in a smaller bushing. You will only have a general idea how fast your shot is going, but you won’t be any better (or worse) off than an adjustable-bar dial-spinner either.

    Oh, there was a day when I was “precise” to a fault. I just went to the garage expecting to find handfuls of specially modified MEC powder bushings to photograph to establish my credentials as OCD but I could only find one – I apparently threw all the others away when I realized that I was acting crazy.

    Here’s the apparent sole survivor, a 31.7 bushing as distinguished from one of the 31.6’s or 31.8’s I suppose.

    [​IMG]

    The reason I describe trying to obtain this sort of precision, as “acting crazy” is that reloading guides are guides, not “Reloading Scripture,” and will, when followed, get you something safe which is in the ballpark of what you want. But that’s all. Just the ballpark. So machining up a bunch of mid-span bushings so I could get the exact-grains the reloading guide specified was not going to give me the exact speed in the book and when I made these small changes I was as likely to be going the wrong way as the right.

    Let’s look at the speed results from a 1200 fps recipe with Green Dot, STS hulls

    Here’s what I got four years ago. The speed is the "Vel12" column in the summary at the lower left of the printout; it's in feet per second.

    [​IMG]

    And here what I got a couple of days ago.

    [​IMG]

    Different years, different lots of Green Dot and primers, but the results are essentially the same (1233 fps and 1227 fps,) no more different from one-another than I might have gotten from just loading five more on either date. They are a little fast, but not radically so; there are plenty of 3-dram factory loads which would match these (and plenty slower too.)

    The Red Dot loads are a good deal more deviant. Here’s 2009:

    [​IMG]

    And 2013:

    [​IMG]

    These are more of a problem, in that they are both about 50 fps faster than expected, and, once again about the same, 1248 fps and 1251 fps.

    By now you be objecting “But wait, what you are saying is that this 1200 fps guide recipe is giving shot speeds about like Winchester Super Handicap Shells – how do know that your chronograph is not just reading thirty or fifty fps fast?”

    Well, here are some of the aforementioned WW Super Handicaps, bought a hour before and tested within minutes of those Red Dot reloads.

    [​IMG]

    And they are about the same as the Red Dots, 1257 fps on the average. The SD’s look good, the tests look fine; that’s about how fast all the shells are going.

    What does that tell us about spinning adjustable-bar wheels to get, in this case, exactly 19.0 grains of Red Dot in hopes of hitting 1200 fps right on the nose? It tells us we are kidding ourselves. In fact, if we just used a MEC bushing which threw a little light we would be closer to our goal than whatever our extra care, our gold-star precision, could have gotten us, no matter how long we spent at it.

    That’s why I threw away all those custom bushings. They did not give me “better” shells. I could match the book, grain-for-grain, but the book’s recipe could be faster or slower than the resulting shells, so the “match” gave me shells which were, on the average, no closer to my target fps than bushing do, and bushings are so much quicker, easier, and repeatable.

    Does it make any difference that shells are faster or slower than we expect? When the deviations are within reason, I don’t think so. Factory shells can easily differ 40 fps, lot to lot, and I’ve never been able to tell.

    When I first started reloading I believed everything I read in the shotgun press. I would endlessly dither over the question whether I wanted the more open patterns of 700-X or the tendency toward increased center density that Green Dot would give me and on and on and on.

    Once I realized this was mostly imaginary I still had all those powders Don & Tom told me I needed. Royal Scot D, 700-X, Dots of all stripes and colors, two kind of Solo, really anything you could imagine. A whole shelf of them, many without current reloading guides at all.

    I was shooting a lot of marathons in about 2007 so I thought I could free up some shelf space by just shooting it all up. I put in a 28 bushing and a 118 charge bar and used up all the powder. Whenever I would change to a new container I’d shoot a couple through my Oehler 84 to make sure the pressure was OK, but otherwise I just ran them all through the press without regard to speed or much of anything.

    They all worked fine; I could never tell how fast they were and the only clue as to brand was that some of them were really smoky. I knew they were one speed or another but could never guess which were which; they all seemed fine and my scores were about what they were with factory Federal Papers or AA’s or anything.

    Conclusions.

    1. Well, first, if you don’t have a chronograph and know how to use it expertly, bushings which throw the right amount or less are all you need. Greater precision (of speed) is an illusion.


    2. The “cushion” every beginning reloader is told about at the club (the “fact” that recipes are “toned down” so what you think will be 1200 is really only 1160) , that cushion does not exist.

    3. You can’t tell anything about the recoil characteristics of powder(s) by comparing loads from a reloading guide. You don’t know if they are going the same speed and they can be a lot faster (or slower) than you think.

    4. The 1200 fps limit for ATA shot-speed which is so popular among a very, very small group of shooters (and non-shooters) will never work. In the two Dot examples above, it’s not just the single shells the rulebook specifies which would be illegal, it’s every shell. But the shooter is just doing what he is told. What are we to do when he is “caught?” He’s cheating for sure, but is he really cheating if he just believes what he reads?

    I’ll probably think of more; or you can and post them as well as I can.

    Thank your for your attention,

    Yours in Sport,

    Neil Winston

    © NMW, 2013
     
  2. Oregunner

    Oregunner Well-Known Member

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    Neil, I'm using up my primers the same way you used up your powders. I load everything in Remington hulls, with 1 oz clone wads and one ounce of shot. I use 17.2 grains of ClayDot to load a medium velcity shell. For primers, I am using up old Federals, new Federals, CCIs, Fiocchis, Winchester, and Remingtons. They all go bang and break targets. I really can't tell the difference. Disclaimer, always follow a published recipe and weigh your powder charge with a scale. Mark
     
  3. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Oregunner, there was a recent Trapshooting USA article by Tim Woodhouse which quoted a number of loads using the same powder-charge but vastly different primers and gave the same speeds (but different pressure.) I thought that was so odd I looked it up and Tim was right, about that, at least, though I thought that his conclusions drawn therefrom were very doubtful.

    I only have three primers in my shop: some early 209P's which were not particularly uniform, the WW's I use for tests, and the 209A's for everything else which are made up the road which I think is as good a a reason as any for picking a primer. Primers are something I don't worry about much. I don't doubt that yours all worked fine too.

    Neil

    Anybody remember that Don Zutz article where he claimed to be able to tell the difference in recoil between primers? Not the recoil of the powder, mind you, but the part that precedes the powder-recoil, the primer recoil itself! Hogwash, in my opinion, par for the course.

    You can see the primer, by the way, in the pressure traces above. It's that little jog in the pressure curve in the reload traces on the left which is followed by the powder taking off. Then take a look at the factory Super-Handicap. It sure looks like a lot stronger primer, doesn't it? Or it might be that the "combustion chamber" of the current AA's is smaller and that leads to the apparent higher pressure. Or who knows?
     
  4. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    ctreay, I've no problem with what you do. It's no different than I do with bushings.

    You may have noticed a recent thread where a poster was using way more 700-X in tapered shells and I thought his speeds would be stratospheric and the pressure too. It came from a guide, but an old one if I remember correctly. My point is that without a properly-used chrongraph you have little idea what your actual speeds are (and it probably doesn't make any difference.)


    I have run into powders which differ quite a bit in density, (not Red and Green Dot, by the way,) but I think my data give you confidence that as long as you keep the charge weight the same, you speeds will be too.


    Neil
     
  5. Hap MecTweaks

    Hap MecTweaks Well-Known Member

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    Neil, in your first report of 2009 sample sheet shows 19 grains of Green-dot as the powder, shouldn't that read Red-Dot instead? I like the SD number "6" of that Red-Dot load.

    "Or it might be that the "combustion chamber" of the current AA's is smaller and that leads to the apparent higher pressure."

    I have a feeling your thought on a smaller combustion area in the new AAs is right on also. It would be interesting to see if there's a "spike" difference when comparing Fed. 209As with a like loading? I once asked Ben A. at Alliant about Fed 209As showing a lower chamber pressure with the same load with Win 209 primers. His opinion was the more forceful primer pushed the load a tad farther forward at ignition? Lowering the internal chamber pressure reading?

    I've used Red-Dot/Green/Dot loads almost exclusively since I began loading shot shells long before I began shooting registered targets! I just got through loading some of each!

    Good job as usual Neil and thanks for sharing!

    Hap

    I forgot to ask, what choke and length barrels were you using for the tests above?
     
  6. Bob Griffith

    Bob Griffith Member

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    Since I was 1 of the people in the thread (I believe) you referenced regarding the bushings, I shall add to this discussion. When I 1st switched to Red Dot many years ago I used the formula on the chart in the Windjammer bags for my 1st loads. Back then it said for a 2&3/4 dram load use 18 grains so I set up my loader with the appropriate bushing accordingly. I was using the old AA hulls. Thinking I was good to go I loaded a bunch & headed off to shoot them. After getting the snot kicked out of me I came home & set up the cronograph & started testing. I shot some Silver Bullets (the old original ones), STS light Handicap, AA 2 & 3/4 and my reloads through them. I quickly found out why I was getting beat up as this recipe as provided on the chart that come with the wads was giving me loads at about or slightly above the silver bullets! I have all this written down in my reloading log, just not at my finger tips right now. Anyway, I started making changes & repeat trips to the benchrest & lowered my powder weight down to 16.7 grains yeilding around 1125-1150 fps. I have used this load ever since.

    I agree that making a radical change with these general load formulas provided by component companies is not the way to go. Having loaded rifle & pistol shells long before shotgun shells I discovered that what you see published in the books is rarely what you get out of your own guns. A chronograph is the only way to go.
     
  7. Beni

    Beni Member

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    Hi Neil,your articals always intrigue and or help me and this one doesnt dissappoint. I have two questions. When using a hotter primer is it possible to not get full ignition {i.e. powder burn} due to the primer ignition pushing powder faster forward than its burnrate resulting in a more dirty powder apperance. Also when our loaders drop powder say a handicap load of powder x, is it possible the powder stacks prior to the wad insertion causing uneven burnrates and should the wad pressure increase whenpowder charge increases,like we used to do loading mag loads of lead for waterfowl thanks..........beni
     
  8. Dr A C Jones

    Dr A C Jones Member

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    Neil, Your batch 1 and 2 of red dot show an increase in velocity of ~1% but an increase in pressure of 10%. Is this significant? (Aside from indicating that pressure doesn't equal velocity doesn't equal recoil.)

    Andrew
     
  9. halfmile

    halfmile Well-Known Member

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    An adjustable bar greatly facilitates mental masturbation.

    That said, before mine went south I liked it because it was easier to change loads back and forth. Using a bushing bar now, and I miss the same amount of targets.

    HM
     
  10. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    Let us make the trip from LaLa Land to the real world. The faster it comes out of the barrel the faster it slows down. When it gets to the target they are all about the same. Learned that in 9th grade Physics class.

    PS - If the flame coming out of the barrel is more than 2 feet long, change the the bushing. HMB
     
  11. Paladin

    Paladin Well-Known Member

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    "Unless you are in that rarified group of expert and experienced chronographers I’m sure you are better off with bushings. Put one in and if it drops the book value, leave it. If it’s heavier, put in a smaller bushing." Neil

    Really? You don't see a problem with 12,900 PSI with your "Put one in and if it drops the book value, leave it" recipes??
     
  12. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Hap. You are right that in the right-hand side near the top, in the section called "load" the powder says Green Dot and should say Red Dot as it does in the rest of the sheet. I see that I did that test 20 minutes after the Green Dot one and I guess I just failed to change that aspect of the test. A feature of the program is that you can't edit anything in a completed sample report, a firewall against "improvement" in results.

    The barrel I use is a SAAMI-type, 30 inch, but it is cylinder rather than the SAAMI-spec full choke. That basically accounts for the "-20 fps" in the Vel(ocity) correction in the middle of the upper sample description. This is a difference between the inductive chrono I am using here and the consumer (light-operated) ones people are familiar with. With an inductive machine cylinder chokes result in faster reading, not slower as with the outdoor models.

    I use Red and Green Dot too and nothing else except for experimentation.

    Neil
     
  13. Two Dogs

    Two Dogs Active Member

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    Neil...You have to come to Fl. get away from the fridget cold of Mn.

    It must me a long winter up there.I have been talking to a couple of your friends here.. Colton and his dad...great people...
     
  14. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Beni, Don Zutz had a theory to explain why he was so wrong in his early two-issue paean to 800-X as a clay-target powder. He claimed that more powerful primers moved the powder into a larger space before it began to properly burn and that's why no one could make it work. I thought it as just too slow to say nothing of dropping very inconsistently.

    I pay little attention to wad pressure with trap-shooting powders; if the indicator moves at least a little on my MEC I'm satisfied. I have no experience with duck-stuff other than a few years ago reading the reloading posts on Waterfowlers and wondering what some of the posters thought they are doing. They were strong believers in the "toned down" idea of reloading guides until they had some of their loads tested for pressure and got some big surprises.

    Neil
     
  15. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Sarge, the barrel I use was intended for a universal receiver but I needed something else and made my own which is pneumatically fired. It has been "second hand" standardized rather than by SAAMI reference shells. A cooperative factory tested some shells I'd tested and we came up with corrections that seem to work, close enough.

    Neil
     
  16. southjblue

    southjblue Active Member

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    Neil---With all respect and technical datta---Has it changed your average???

    Just wondering-----George
     
  17. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Andrew, while I do stand behind my speed measurements, I can't vouch for my pressure readings which I think are likely too high. I'm not able to do the calibration tests SAAMI expects to be done often and so can only change out one for another and see if they are the same. I'll try a different 167a sensor and retest the Red Dot and see what I get. I'm expecting lower results but we will have to wait and see. I may get to it today and post it on this thread.

    In the meantime, I advise readers here to concentrate on the speeds and hold off judgement on the pressures until we know more.

    Neil
     
  18. jbmi

    jbmi Active Member

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    Neil, nice post, lots of just common sense.
    Don't post this over at Shotgun World or you'll be banned for life by the reloading police over there. :>)
     
  19. R.Kipling

    R.Kipling Well-Known Member

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    Neil,

    BUT, I didn't see the necessary adjustments for Kelvin? LOL And, if you were really OCD, you'd be CDO, like OCD but the letters are in the correct order. Just a little something to chear you up.

    Years ago a national shot shell manufacturer suggested that I use a hotter primer than published, in light loads, to get more uniform ignition and performance. That was when I stopped loading shot shells like match pistol.

    Kip
     
  20. 22hornet

    22hornet Active Member

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    Nice to see you back, Neil. As usual, you provide data to back up your common sense approach.