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Load data/info needed for Montana Gold 158gr in 38 Special

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by techiej, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. techiej

    techiej vancouver, wa Active Member

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    Been reloading for a while and just picked up a GP100 (6") and a Rossi 92 Lever (24").

    Loaded up some rounds using Montana Gold .38/158gr JHP in 38 special cases, S&B SPP and N-340 powder. Don't have the COAL with me but it was roll crimped into the cannelure.

    Long story short, since I was doing load development I started at 4.5 grains and went to 4.9 and managed to stick bullets in the barrels of both guns.

    With the Lever it was an easy removal. Unfortunately with the revolver after the jacket stuck in the end of the barrel (the lead core didn't) and nto realzing it, the next shot plugged up the barrel beyond hope....sigh. That gun is on the way back to Ruger for a new barrel and a bunch of $$$.

    So, does anyone have recommended load data that would work for me?

    Also, needless to say, I have a chronograph on order...never had to 'need' it before although yes I know I should have and it would have prevented this much pain.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    That'd suck. They have minimum load levels for a reason and it seems you were below them.. don't do that!

    Products - Lapua
     
  3. techiej

    techiej vancouver, wa Active Member

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    I was going by the Hornady manual which had a min of 4.3.
     
  4. techiej

    techiej vancouver, wa Active Member

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    A couple of follow-up questions:

    1) the VV pdf shows a range (38 spc) of 4.9 @ 791 fps to a max of 5.6 @ 983 fps. Opinions/suggestions/cautions?

    2) my plan was to chrono some factory 158 gr hollow-points (Remington) through each gun and then chrono loads ranging from 4.4 to 5.6 in each gun until I was close to the factory velocities...does this make sense or am I taking too much for granted given the unknown powder, bullet height,amount of crimp, et al for the factory ammo?

    Thanks everyone!
     
  5. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Well since you will now have a chrony and stuck bullets at 4.5 or so, I'd start mid-range perhaps. Realize that if it/the data says ".38 Special", it's not .38+P and your guns are not old black powder rigs.. they are both modern .357 magnums.
    Also, lead is way harder to stick than jacketed if you are trying to get a true gallery load. And look for the holes in the paper/verify a clear barrel with super light loads.
    Good luck!
     
  6. civilian75

    civilian75 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    techie,

    This is quite unfortunate. I have been reloading for ~5 years, ~3yr 38SPC and 357Mag and other handgun calibers with a single stage. I mention this so that you know where I come form.

    On paper, your load looks fine. Nothing red flags. So let's go over each component:
    1. bullet: since it is the first time (I guess) you load 158gr jacketed from Montana, I would weight and measure each bullet's dimensions. Run some descriptive statistics on the data, just for future reference. If something is off, it will jump out on you. But if one or two bullet measure, say, .359" dia., in my mind, that's the smoking gun.
    2. charge: this is what I suspect is the most likely culprit. Somehow you though you had loaded 4.5g to 4.9g but ended up with less. It happens (yes, it has happened to me. I was lucky nothing bad happened, like a stuck bullet). Pull some of the remaining bullets and measure the charges. 4.6g to 4.9g of VV340 should fill about 1/3 of the case.
    3. Powder: is this the first time you load with this batch of VV340? It could be out of specs! Try a different batch or powder.
    4. Primers: I highly doubt you have a problem here. They either ignite or not. If you are using small rifle primers by mistake, the most likely had not ignited. But, you did not mention anything about the spent primers, like cratering (high pressures), primers coming out of the pockets (very low pressures), although I am not sure this is possible on revolvers.
    5. brass: i doubt any of your brass split or else you would have mentioned it. But measure heads dimensions. Compare with brass from other loads.

    For future consideration, I will share some of the things I do:
    1. chrono each cartridge
    2. measure (not just drop) each charge. Especially important with new powders. I think most pistol powders drop well, but there are some notable exceptions (like Unique).
    3. I don't always do, but, should measure each bullet length and diameter, especially if it is from a new (to me) bullet supplier.
    4. I have never had a stuck bullet to date. But I would stop at the very first occurrence, and inspect each remaining cartridge. Inspection includes a) weighting the complete cartridge, b) pulling bullet c) weighting charges and bullets, d) measure everything. If you keep shooting... well, you know what can and will happen. But besides, you might destroy the only remaining evidence of what went wrong.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  7. techiej

    techiej vancouver, wa Active Member

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    Thanks.

    I've been reloading other rifle & pistol for a while and this is the same batch of powder that I use for 9 & 45acp.

    When I received the bullets I did a random spot check of about 20 and they all looked good with no significant variance in height, diameter or weight. Primers were OK too as I don't reload for small rifle or magnum small pistol so these were definitely small pistol primers that have worked well for me in 9mm. Also, the brass is brand new and was resized, trimmed, chamfered to spec and the bullets loaded to the cannelure.. loaded COAL is 1.439".

    It's always possible that since there is very little volume to the case that the powder was off..I usually weigh the 1st 10 charges and then again with every set of 100.
     
  8. civilian75

    civilian75 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    I also agree with Certaindeaf. For "gallery" loads, it is better to use Pb or, I'd add, Cu plated Pb bullets. That's what I do for my practice loads with my CC snubby.
     
  9. civilian75

    civilian75 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    I always measure all charges when developing a load. Once I settle on a middle of the road load I trust, I drop with spot checks very few drops. I don't trust the drop meter when charging close to limits, especially with jacketed. Pb and Cu plated are more forgiving.

    Actually, I take back the last comment. Pb and Cu plated can be a bit unforgiving when loading outside their hardness sweet spot.
     
  10. techiej

    techiej vancouver, wa Active Member

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    OK, so finally got the chrono in and was able to do some testing.

    Chrono (10 shot strings) results for my Lever (24") with the chrono set @ 10' from the muzzle:

    First, I chrono'd the closest factory ammo that I could find which was Remington 158gr +P JHP; it was not roll crimped and was in nickel plated cases. Average velocity was 1,346 FPS.

    Note: The information I am providing was based upon my experiences and measurements and should not be used for anyone reloading/performing load development.

    Next, I chrono'd some of my loads all of which were with a roll crimp and the VV N340 powder as follows:

    Powder Charge FPS
    ------------------- ----------
    5.1 887
    5.3 973
    5.4 1,013
    5.5 1,035
    5.6 1,071

    Accuracy was good with all of the loads (checked @ 25 & 50 yrds). What surprised me was that the velocity was significantly less than I would have expected based upon the data from VV (which was for a 6 1/2" barrel) or any of the other sources I consulted.

    So, I chron'd one of my VV N340 loads (5.4) in the revolver and it came in @ 704 fps.

    Going by the powder manufacturer & the Hornady guide I would have expected to come in above 800 fps for the revolver.

    In the interim I was able to score some Accurate #5 powder. So, I then chron'd a series of AA NO. 5 loads in both the 24" lever and the 6" revolver with the following results (lowest and highest loads tested are the only ones I'm showing):

    Grains Revolver Lever
    -------- ---------- -------
    5.6 530 860
    6.2 708 987

    The loads with 6.2 of A#5 were also the most accurate in both guns. These are much closer to the powder manufacturer stated velocity, but still seem a bit slow.

    I was able to get a hold of someone at Montana Gold who told me that I should be shooting for at least 750 fps to avoid a possibility of jacket separation...so I do need to get some more velocity in the revolver.

    The Accurate data shows a max load of 6.4 and I will run some add'l tests @ 6.3 & 6.4 in about a week.

    I definitely want to get to at least 750 and preferably 800 fps in the revolver...while I know I might get better results with different bullets/powders I also have to try to deal with what I have available.

    Feedback, ideas, suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  11. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Very interesting reading above.

    I only do handgun.

    Just some thoughts that rattle around in my head when I'm looking at load data from different sources and powder burn rate charts......

    A small amount of slower powder in a bigger case such as .38 special will be lacking the pressure needed to get that bullet moving fast, fast enough, also considering the cylinder to barrel gap with a revolver where pressure is lost. That same powder in a 9mm or .40 may work quite well with just another grain or so because of less space in the case and less opportunity for pressure to escape.

    Again, that is just MY thought process.

    I have had great success with a slower powder, HS6, in the smaller cases of 9mm and .40.


    Where I came up with issues was with .44 Special, there was a WIDE difference between my book and the Hodgdon website. I've put that one aside at this point.


    Mike
     
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  12. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Remember those are brass jacketed slugs.. even more prone to sticking than normal copper jacketed since there is more friction/they are harder.
    700fps with a long, brass jacketed slug out of a .357 magnum seems like you're asking for it.
     
  13. Classic

    Classic Federal Way WA Well-Known Member

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    Bag the Montana gold jacketed and use Xtreme copper plated. I all honesty I remember hearing MG had issues recently with a different caliber but I'm thinking there might be a little more to the quality control issue. I also have to wonder what you're using for a crimp die? Revolver loads need a roll crimp and it's really difficult to over crimp (although it can be done but you'll mess up the case). Your crimp may be too light which is why you're not getting the velocity you expect.
    Regardless dump the Montana Golds, they are too expensive for what ya get.
     
  14. techiej

    techiej vancouver, wa Active Member

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    I've been very happy with the many thousands of other MG bullets that I've run in 9, 44 & 45. Spot checking the dimensions & weight of the ones I'm trying to run for 38 shows that they are right on...could be a greater amount of friction is involved though.

    I am leery of running plated bullets in that I want to run the same loads of a 24" carbine as well which will easily add several hundred fps to the velocity vs a revolver and I have a big concern of the plating coming off.

    Re crimp, I am running what I consider to be a pretty tight roll crimp (RCBS die set)...when I push it further the case does get damaged so I think that I'm about as far as I can go with that...and it is crimped into the canneulre of the bullet.

    Since my last post I've talked with the folks at Accurate and they actually had me provide the powder lot # so that they could check against their lot tests and the #5 I'm trying now is within 1% of spec for them. They then ran tests with a similar configuration (other than not having the MG bullet) regarding revolver barrel length, height/weight/width of bullet and powder from that lot and they got about 100fps more than I did; other variances to the published data.

    One item that they mentioned is that if my cylinder gap was on the larger side (even if within spec) it could easily impact my velocity by up 200+ fps at the loads I'm running vs what they had in their published data. So, my next step is to get a set of feeler gauges and check my cylinder gap.
     
  15. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    A piece of regular typing paper was always, (I just checked and mine is) .004". If you have over .008" of cylinder/barrel gap your still in spec but it's getting up there.

    One thing I liked about reloading .38 special to use in a .357 was that it gives peace of mind as there is quite a range of powder rates that will be safe in that gun. Just be sure to mark all loaded ammo so you don't accidently shoot some heavier loads in an older arm that may not be +P rated.

    Also, N340 is slower than anything I've loaded in .38 special, maybe that powder is better suited to fuller cases in magnum?? If you up your amount and get it running will you have a bunch of un-burnt powder?

    Mike
     
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  16. techiej

    techiej vancouver, wa Active Member

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    Thanks for the hint regarding the typing paper...all I have is inkjet/copy paper which is probably thicker but I can get out my calibers and check it.

    When I get my next test results (won't be able to get to the range until late next week) I'll include any observations on unburnt powder.
     
  17. civilian75

    civilian75 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    For cylinder forcing cone gap you could try a spark plug gap gauge. But I think you are fine here. I mean, this is not your root cause. It is MG semi brass jacketed bullet. Brass jacket will definitely increase fiction and yield lower velocities. Reload data is normally for Cu jacketed bullets.

    Main purpose of crimping on revolver loads is to prevent bullet jump. This is particularly important on loads producing high recoil in lightweight (~16oz or less) revolvers. Not so much of an issue on a 40-45oz revolver like yours. Your load does not need a particularly tight crimp.

    On your carbine, a very tight crimp is desired with high recoil levers like a 45/70. Otherwise, just regular roll crimp will suffice to prevent bullet re-seating inside the tube magazine.

    I don't have any of my reloading books with my now but, Quickload shows 5.6gr of N340 sounds is over max for 38SPC or even +P! Your guns will take it fine but your brass may not take too many reloads.

    IMHO, I think slower powder like AA#5 are a better choice than VVN340 for a load that you intend for both revolver and carbine. N340 will burn completely even on your revolver with most the loads you posted earlier. AA#5 will burn ~95% on a 24in bbl. In "my book", that is an ideal burn for 24"bbl.

    All my carbine loads have are on the hot side. And I never load half jacketed for carbine.

    You will probably be fine with 6.4gr or maybe even up to 6.6gr AA#5 (+P). Both carbine and revolver will take it just fine :)

    Quickload is a load analyzing s/w by NECONOS.

    Found this thread while googling about MG and jacket separation. Thought I should share:
    Jacket separation in Montana Gold 158grain JHP 357 - Ammunition & Reloading - New Jersey Gun Forums
     
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  18. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Man, my head's spinning from this. Two burn rate charts show N340 and AA5 switched.....but both are close, within ten or so places. In the grand scheme of things that is not a lot. I don't know diddly about loading for long guns, however, it is my understanding that data and powders just don't interchange from long barrel to hand guns and visa versa?

    Just reading and soaking things in.

    Mike
     
  19. techiej

    techiej vancouver, wa Active Member

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    Many thanks for the info and the link.
     
  20. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    For true. I never heard (well, here we are) of someone having a problem getting slugs down the barrel using negative to the third power thirty eight special loads out of a .357 Magnum. There's all kinds, baby!

    I think you are doing it wrong but knock yourself out.