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Thread: [B]Load Manual Error......[/B]

  1. #1
    Boolit Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    [B]Load Manual Error......[/B]

    Loading Manual Error……

    Over the years, especially the last nine years with an Oehler M43 actually pressure testing, I’ve discovered error in data in almost every make (Speer, Lyman, Hornady, Hodgdon and Nosler) of loading manuals. This is especially the case with data from older and newer manuals that list pressures derived from the C.U.P. method of testing. Lee’s manual simply copies the data from other sources, both C.U.P. data and modern psi data obtained from transducer/strain gauge pressure measurement. Many newer manuals have loads “adjusted”, usually down, from the data in older manuals. Many think this is from lawyers, etc. but the truth is most newer reloading manual data is derived from better and more complete pressure testing through the use of peizo-transducers and strain gauge measurements. What is found is many older loads that were thought to be within safe standards for the cartridge actually were too high in pressure.

    A recent example has been found using H4350 in the 30-06 with Hornady’s new 178 gr ELD-X bullet. A friend of mine recently had goodsteel build him a long range rifle based on a M700 action. It has a 31” Palma contoured barrel with a 12” twist chambered in 30-06 XCB. Based on my previous experience with ’06 match rifles and long range rifles I suggested 4350 powder. He collected a good amount of all three flavors; IMR, Hodgdon and Accurate Arms. He also got a supple of 175 Sierra MKs and the new Hodgdon 178 ELD-X bullets. He is using Winchester match prepped cases and Federal 215 Match primers.

    He decided to try the Hodgdon’s H4350 powder and turned to the Hodgdon #27 manual. One would assume Hodgdon had the data well tested and correct since it’s their powder. We were discussing the loads by phone (he is in NE Oregon and I’m in Arizona) so I opened up my Hodgdon #27 manual and turned to the data for the 30-06 with 180 gr bullets. The #27 manual lists the max load for 180 gr bullets using H4350 at 57.5 gr. That is with a C.U.P. of 49,200. The velocity listed from a 24” Winchester M70 barrel with a 10” twist at 2798 fps. I have not used H4350 in the 30-06 (I mostly use IMR and AA) so I took the data at face value.

    My friend decided to work up from 54 gr in ½ gr increments to 57.5 gr of H4350. A few days later he called back just tickled pink as the 57.5 gr load was shooting right at ½ moa at 300 yards. He had broke down and bought the top end Chrony with printer but hadn’t yet chronographed it. I was up there a few weeks back on my way to the Tacoma area. We went out to the local range and set up the Chrony and chronographed the 57.5 gr load. There was no indication of excessive pressure; bolt opened normally, primers looked fine and no excessive expansion at the case head. But holy smokes…..the average velocity was 3060 fps!!!!! My prediction with either AA4350 or IMR4350 under a 175 gr Sierra MK was 2950 fps +/- given the 31” barrel……but 3060 fps? About 3 weeks later I returned back through there so we took the rifle up to another friend’s ranch where they have a 1000 yard range with a sturdy bench to shoot from. He put 9 shots consecutively into right at 1 moa at 1000 yards in a 5 -8 gusting to 10 mph side wind. I put 10 shots into 1.2 moa. Again, even though it was 80+ degrees there was no sign of excess pressure.

    However, that night my friend was depriming the cases and three primers basically fell out of the pockets. The primer pockets were swollen and no longer would hold a primer. That was the first sign of excessive pressure. My friend gave me a pound of the H4350 and a box of the 178 ELD-Xs to bring home with me to pressure test that load. I have the Winchester cases and Federal 215 Match primers. When I got home I loaded test loads of 56.5, 57 and 57.5 gr. Yesterday morning at daylight I was at the range here in Lake Havasu to test those loads. Was 65 degrees so heat would not be a factor. My 30-06 test rifle is a M98 Mauser with a 24” barrel. I chambered it with a match reamer to minimal headspace. I gives pressure readings via the Oehler M43 that are commensurate with the known pressure of Federal and Winchester factory loads used as “reference ammunition”.

    I shot a ten shot test with M72 Match to validate everything was set up correctly. The measured data was within normal range. I lightly cleaned the barrel and proceeded to test the 56.5 gr load. The test rounds were loaded in fire formed test Winchester cases NS’d with a Bonanza Bench rest NS die. Primers were Federal 215 Match. Powder charges were weighed with a Redding scale. The 178 ELD-Xs were seated to 3.330” which is just off the leade.

    The Oehler M43 was set up to measure the pressure and velocity for each shot. Start screen was at 15 feet with a 4 foot screen spacing. Target was at 100 yards.

    The 1st test shot went 2882 fps with 69,200 psi(M43)
    The 2nd test shot went 2873 fps with 68,900 psi(M43)
    The 3rd test shot went 2869 fps with 69,200 psi(M43)

    I quit testing and did not fire the remaining 7 rounds of that load nor did I fire any of the heavier 57 and 57.5 gr loads. With the 69,000 psi +/- from the “start” load I sure wasn’t going any higher…….

    Average for the 3 test shots was:
    Velocity; 2875
    PSI; 69,100

    The M43 correction to muzzle velocity was 2884 fps. The 3 shots grouped .94”.

    The 56.5 gr H4350 test load was 86 fps faster than the Hodgdon manual listed max load of 57.5 gr. Note the test barrels were both 24”. Obviously the psi of the 56.5 load was quite excessive. I hesitated to guess at the pressure of the 57.5 gr load but based on experience I’d guess it was 75,000 +/- psi….well into “proof level” loads.

    On the return home I figured something was definitely amiss. I pulled the bullets of the cartridges not fired and reweighed the charges….they were spot on. I then looked at a couple burn rate charts and discovered my own “error”. H4350 is sandwiched right between AA4350 and IMR4350. My experience with both of those is that 56 gr is a max load (measured 60 – 62,000 psi) under a 180 gr Hornady SPBT. I then checked Hornady’s 8th and 10th Edition manuals. They list 55.3 gr H4350 as a max load under 178 – 180 gr bullets…….Hello......says I, there’s a 2.2 gr difference between the Hodgdon and Hornady manuals. The 2700 fps velocity level +/- is also commensurate with what I get out of my test rifle and M70 (24” barrels with 56 gr AA4350.

    Examination of the fired cases revealed no sign of excessive pressure as shown here. They were fired left to right. The primers appear normal for a top end jacketed 30-06 load with 60,000 psi. 2nd photo shows the case as fired left to right with a fire formed case (far right) from a previous normal psi firing.

    Again, no sign of excessive pressure, just normal expansion at the expansion ring after 3 firings.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I’ve reloaded up test strings of 54.5, 55.0 ,55.3, 55.6 and 55.9 H4350 with all other load parameters being the same. Hoping to test before the week is out. I will post the results here.

    Today September 28, 2017 I completed the test. I again set up at daylight with little to no wind and the temp right at 70 degrees. Results are;

    54.5 gr; 2743 fps with 56,600 psi(M43)
    55.0 gr: 2801 fps with 60,400 psi(M43)
    53.3 gr; 2833 fps with 61,900 psi(M43)
    55.6 gr; 2850 fps with 63,700 psi(M43)

    I did not test the 55.9 gr load.

    The maximum load listed in Hornady 8th and 10th editions is correct at 55.3. Any modern action also chambered in .308W ill also handle this psi level. I would consider the 54.5 gr load as maximum in older actions such as the M1903s.

    The Hodgdon maximum load is 2.2 gr higher and obviously is too much.

    This obvious error in older loading data with the pressure measured via the C.U.P. method is another example that care should be exercised when using older data, especially when the pressure is listed as measured with the C.U.P. method. New comers to reloading should head advice not to jump to the top load of a manual or to use loads given on internet sites and forums without consulting other references. Even then a reduction and proper work up should always be done.

    A chronograph also is an excellent tool to use when developing loads, especially if one is going to approach top end jacketed loads. When the velocity is faster than the published data understand there is probably only one reason why; pressure.

    Larry Gibson
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  2. #2
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    Now that is interesting!!
    Makes me wish I had pressure testing equipment.
    Could it be a possibility that particular lot of powder has an issue that would cause that or is that really unlikely?

  3. #3
    Boolit Master JBinMN's Avatar
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    Thanks for taking the time to share that data!

    I myself use older manuals, but I do not usually get up to max loads anyway. I work my way up slowly & look for possible issues as I go. But I do know some who do "push the envelope" a bit from what they have told me & not think a thing about doing it....

    I hope that your discovery gets spread around so that you possibly save someone some grief in the future, for folks getting too complacent with their reloading at near max/max ( or over) powder amounts.

    I will be passing your findings to the ones I know who reload. Then it is up to them to heed or not.

    Thanks again for the share!
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks, but I have a question.

    If the old testing methods tended to understate the actual pressure, how were max pressures determined?

  5. #5
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    [B]Load Manual Error......[/B]

    Out of curiosity I ran the numbers in Quickload for the 56.5 grain load. Obviously I don't have all the specifics for the loaded cartridge. Using the 30-06 SAAMI cartridge and ELD-X 3074 bullet it predicted 2848 fps at Pmax of 63,257 psi. It also says it's a compressed load of 8.2%. For those that don't have the pressure testing equipment that Larry has Quickload would have kept you out of trouble. If I entered all the specifics for the cartridge it could potentially raise the pressure even more.
    Last edited by dragon813gt; 09-28-2017 at 11:30 PM.

  6. #6
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    I have a Remington 700 .30-06 with the factory 1-10 twist barrel in which I am loading the 165 gr Speer SP (flat base) over 56.0 gr. of RL17 in Winchester cases with WLR primers. Alliant gives the max load for the 165 SPBT as 56.5 gr. My handload is very accurate in my rifle. However, I don't recall if I have chronographed this load yet. Might be time to do so. Also, this type information makes for a desire for pressure testing equipment as well.

    Thank you, Larry, for your diligence in testing and also your willingness to publish your test results.

    BTW, the Hodgdon website shows a max load in the .30-06 with the 175 gr Sierra match HPBT loaded to 3.300" as 59.0 gr. H4350 for 2842 fps and 48,700 C.U.P., which sounds fairly benign. Winchester case and WLR primer, 24" 1-10 twist barrel.
    Last edited by oldblinddog; 09-28-2017 at 11:16 PM.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Very well done Larry, thank you.
    I have danced with the Devil. She had excellent attorneys.

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    Boolit Master
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    Very well done Larry! This should be a "stickey"!
    It's all chicken, even the beak!

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    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    I agree with the stickey vote

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    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    In radial copper days all of the manufacturers would work off the same lot of reference ammunition in a given caliber, and each facility would fire a 20-round test, submitting their data, fired cases and used coppers for analysis. The data would be evaluated and Knoop hardness measurements made of the coppers to develop an assessment of each lot of reference ammo, which everybody used. If a particular pressure barrel gave different results from the assessment, a correction factor would be applied to tests performed in that barrel. Careful records were maintained on presure test barrels and once observed calues exceeded parameters permitted by the established calibration procedures, the barrel would be scrapped.

    The basic calibration procedures were similar in government practice, but cases of test rounds were pre-drilled and a different size copper was used.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Hornady #9 doesn't show H4350 with 180 bullet, but has IMR and Accurate 4350 with max loads of 54.5 and 54.4 @ 2700fps from a 23.75 " bbl. Be careful, start low and work up or you could put an eye out!
    Hell, I was there!

  12. #12
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    I find that AMAZINGLY interesting. My mentors have always told me than none of the traditional pressure signs could be relied on to keep me safe. The reason is that by the time they appear it is already way too hot. They taught me that these signs appear at about - - - - > 70,000 psi.
    First reload: .22 Hornet. 1956.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by williamwaco View Post
    I find that AMAZINGLY interesting. My mentors have always told me than none of the traditional pressure signs could be relied on to keep me safe. The reason is that by the time they appear it is already way too hot. They taught me that these signs appear at about - - - - > 70,000 psi.
    That sounds about right to me. What I do find surprising is that the 57.5 gr load Scharf was shooting in the Rem 700 didn't show brass extrusion into the ejector bore, a bright spot on the fired brass head.
    Hell, I was there!

  14. #14
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    Larry as always I find your information spot on thank you for sharing your expertise

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    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by williamwaco View Post
    I find that AMAZINGLY interesting. My mentors have always told me than none of the traditional pressure signs could be relied on to keep me safe. The reason is that by the time they appear it is already way too hot. They taught me that these signs appear at about - - - - > 70,000 psi.
    Sometimes with old eyes one has to get the magnifying glass out and study the radius on the shoulder. Close scrutiny will reveal that as pressure goes up that primer radius gets progressively smaller and smaller. Primers have to be looked at closely and also compare the whole lot of the test/workup...not just a couple.
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master buckshotshoey's Avatar
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    I know there are differences from lot to lot, but DAMN! Even the best 168 he Matchking tops out a about 2700. One would think that someone would have run into trouble long before Larry studied this situation (not doubting your results Larry). It would be interesting to hear what Hodgdon has to say about this.
    Last edited by buckshotshoey; 09-29-2017 at 04:41 PM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    What I have taken out of all this is that NO loading data from ANY SOURCE can be counted on 100 PERCENT of the time.
    This is something most veteran reloaders will probably know but are subject to forget at times.
    This episode should be enough to reinforce the idea that relying 100 percent on any source of load data is bordering on the irresponsible even from a person that one perceives to know what they are talking about.
    We Know Mass Cannot Be Weighed But It Has Newtonian Weight And That Is Derived From Kilograms And Kilograms Can Be Converted to Pounds. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed. But How is the kilograms obtained? Can Kilograms Be Weighed? Evidentally Yes It Can. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed So Kilograms Must Not Exist. Funny Isn't It.
    One good thing out of this the next time I'm at the doctors and they want to weigh me I'll tell them mass cannot be weighed.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Hi Larry,

    Just curious,
    Have you/do you plan on contacting Hodgdon and forwarding them your data
    on the apparent over pressure load data for Hodgdon’s H4350 powder in Hodgdon's #27 manual?

    I know that it is a challenge trying to get the bureaucracy to correct it's actions.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by edp2k View Post
    Hi Larry,

    Just curious,
    Have you/do you plan on contacting Hodgdon and forwarding them your data
    on the apparent over pressure load data for Hodgdon’s H4350 powder in Hodgdon's #27 manual?

    I know that it is a challenge trying to get the bureaucracy to correct it's actions.
    I've a couple more tests to run 1st. The #27 Hodgdon manual lists that 57.5 gr as max for a "180 gr bullet". So I'm going to test the 55.3 gr load again but with 4 different bullets; The Sierra 175 gr MK, the Hornady 178 ELD, a Hornady 180 SPBT and a Speer 180 gr SP. We'll see what happens with those first.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    They used the Sierra 180 SBT and a WLRP.
    We Know Mass Cannot Be Weighed But It Has Newtonian Weight And That Is Derived From Kilograms And Kilograms Can Be Converted to Pounds. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed. But How is the kilograms obtained? Can Kilograms Be Weighed? Evidentally Yes It Can. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed So Kilograms Must Not Exist. Funny Isn't It.
    One good thing out of this the next time I'm at the doctors and they want to weigh me I'll tell them mass cannot be weighed.

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