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Thread: 12 ha Tri-ball range results. Epic failure.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Blood Trail's Avatar
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    12 ha Tri-ball range results. Epic failure.

    A while back, for craps and giggles, I loaded a couple 3.5" Dixie Tri-ball loads and got pretty decent groups of 6-8" at 30 yards. I meant to go back and revisited it, but I got swamped.

    Anyway, I decided to load up a couple more using 34 grs of Steel (using what the late James Gates posted here a while back). The only thing I changed was I added an overshot card to ensure for a proper crimp with 3.5" hulls.

    I should of started at 20 yards, but the range was packed, so I started at 50 yards.

    It took about 5 shots to even hit the 72"x60" cardboard target. I had stapled a deer target to it. The balls shot all around the deer like it had a force field protecting it.

    I was able to gather some of the wads and a few balls. The wads are all types of deformed and melted. The bases where blown.

    I had a 20 ga nitro card in the bases and all wads and balls where mica coated with BPI #47 buffer added.

    One of the issues to why these performed so poorly was the alloy of my balls. I got my first batch mixed in with my second batch which I alloyed with Linotype. I'll analyze those at work so I can tell which is which.

    I used a CYC choke out of a Mossberg 835. Not sure if the barrel being over-bored made an issue as the last time I shot these, I was using a 935 with a MOD choke.

    I'm pretty stumped as to why or how these wads got so tore up. Here's a couple pics of the recovered wads and balls.

    What do y'all think?



    Noticed the ball on the far right barely had any setback dents in it.


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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Looks like massive blow-by of gasses by wad seal. Wads look burned and melted. FWIW I had excellent results with a 2-ball load but it just beat me to death. Maybe a hard card over powder instead of overshot would offer some mitigation from that blow-by.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master Blood Trail's Avatar
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    HT, that's what I did the first time! Totally forgot about that.


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  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Yikes! The only time I have seen wads even close to that ugly is when I used some shotcups, I'd cut gas seal off, over nitro card wads as gas seals then 1/2" hard card wad. Just to try you understand. The blow by was horrendous but not as bad as what you got!

    I'd be suspicious of the back bored barrel being a bit large for the gas seal.

    The damage to the balls is a bit hard to make out but some looks like "dents" from balls being soft. If so then they may have squished outwards and damaged petals to and would have spread quick (I think) after leaving the bore.

    I thought the Tri-Ball load was to be used with a tight full choke for best results?

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Blood Trail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by longbow View Post
    Yikes! The only time I have seen wads even close to that ugly is when I used some shotcups, I'd cut gas seal off, over nitro card wads as gas seals then 1/2" hard card wad. Just to try you understand. The blow by was horrendous but not as bad as what you got!

    I'd be suspicious of the back bored barrel being a bit large for the gas seal.

    The damage to the balls is a bit hard to make out but some looks like "dents" from balls being soft. If so then they may have squished outwards and damaged petals to and would have spread quick (I think) after leaving the bore.

    I thought the Tri-Ball load was to be used with a tight full choke for best results?
    Yes, you'll have to play around with choke constriction, but damn. We're talking 6-8 ft spread at 50 yards.


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  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Well, I have to say that the choke certainly wouldn't have had anything to do with those mangled wads. That looks like massive blow by/burning. Just commenting that I'm pretty sure James said best accuracy was through a tight turkey choke. That may well vary from gun to gun too.

    If wads are failing due to blow by, or whatever, groups will be big. I'll bet the balls were kinda flung all over as the wad and blow by gases left the muzzle. Hmmm... some nighttime photos may show an interesting muzzle flash!

    Not Tri-Ball but when I found wads my 0.690" balls fit and still slid through the bore of the gun I was quite excited to try them but when I did I got groups like your recent Ti-Ball loads. Wads failed and the balls went feet out of the way of the targets. Unbelievable that mass of lead can veer so far off course in such a short distance but so it does if not launched well.

    On that note, I have a double 0.690" ball load if you are interested. I have not tried it.

    Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how your next Tri-Ball loads work out.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Some thoughts:

    It appears the primary problem is soft lead alloy setback expansion with possible pressure excursions.

    The use of an overpowder nitro card wad between powder and plastic wad was tried in early 3.5" load development work. This ocasionally resulted in case wall burn through above the "brass" - presumably due to card wad distortion into the cupped base of the plastic wad.

    The 12 gauge chamber and 10 gauge bore of the Mossberg 835 represents an extreme example of the overbore concept. Most other commercial overbore 12 gauge guns seldom run larger than .745".

    Here are some references to past discussions on the topic:

    http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/view...4c280969ca6a13

    The exact data for loading 12 bore 3.5" Triball cartridges can be found here:

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...visited!/page2
    Last edited by RMc; 07-24-2017 at 03:13 PM.

  8. #8
    Maybe I'm totally out of line, but I see a lot of times the X12X gas seal listed as a good cure for blow by in back bored shotguns. I don't know what the exact load you are using, but the link lists a max of 32gr STEEL. I would personally drop a couple grains if you are going to try a gas seal. I've tried in the past with mixed results, but I don't have any over bore barrels. No load data ever lists it, but I find I always have to put a card wad (I think a 20 gauge fits) between the powder cup of the top wad, and the gas seal to keep the cup from collapsing funny. I used to have a load I made for turkeys with the VP70 wad with the X12X, and I found it worked best if I simply took a razor knife and carefully cut the seal of the powder cup off. This made a nice flat base for the gas seal to mate to.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check