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Thread: a wheelgun cleaning/shooting tale ...

  1. #1
    Boolit Master


    rfd's Avatar
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    a wheelgun cleaning/shooting tale ...

    i'd been using LVL (lehigh valley lube) for cleaning out a number of different kinds of guns, from flintlocks to centerfire to rimfire. i load my ruger sp101 .357mag rounds with tumble lubed 158 grain cast bullets. the tumble lube is white label 45-45-10, very sparsely used, with just enuf to fully thin coat the lead.

    after cleaning/lubing this new and unfired revolver only with LVL, i loaded 100 cartridges with a light load of w231 in starline brass and proceeded to shake down the pistol. after 5 cylinders worth of firings, i sensed a stiffness to the wheel - it felt like something was binding it from turning. then feeding the rounds into the cylinder became tight and "sticky". it got to the point where it wasn't at all easy to load and shoot, and that range experience ended abruptly.

    a subsequent very thorough cleaning/lubing with breakfree restored the cylinder to spinning freely, tumble lubed cartridges loaded and fired easily, and the trigger/hammer worked well.

    clearly, the LVL had reacted with the tumble lube in a not-so-good manner. this is not at all to say that LVL is in any manner "bad" - i still use it for guns that don't load with tumble lubed bullets. point taken and remembered.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Ickisrulz's Avatar
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    I have an SP101 and a GP100 that both get tight cylinders due to gunk when I shoot 38 Special rounds in the following combination: full wadcutter, BLL and Unique. I have no problems with this combination in other revolvers.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master


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    I've found that my SP101 tends to get tight after 50-60 rounds of .38 'mid-range' loads (148 gr. WC/3.1 gr. B'Eye) due to unburned powder accumulating under the extractor. No similar problem, however, with +P .38s or .357s.

    Bill
    "I'm not often right but I've never been wrong."

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    "Scarlet Begonias"

  4. #4
    Boolit Master


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    with light .357mag loads of 4.5 grains of w231 under a 158 grain lee TL bullet, i fired off 100 of them this past monday with nary a hiccup.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Hick's Avatar
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    BLL is all I use to lube my 38 Special rounds and 357 magnum rounds. Hundreds of rounds in both my S&W Model 64 and my Ruger New Model blackhawk without any binding or indication of a problem.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by rfd View Post
    with light .357mag loads of 4.5 grains of w231 under a 158 grain lee TL bullet, i fired off 100 of them this past monday with nary a hiccup.
    My favorite load for a small .357.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    I have a S&W 60-4 38 Special that gets tight after about a box of shells. It cleans easily though so I don't worry about it much.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master TCFAN's Avatar
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    My SP101 4.2 inch in 327 get a tight cylinder after about 300 to 500 rounds of lite 100 gr. loads using BAC lube.Powder is bullseye.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    The Ruger SP101 is a great gun but Ruger uses different designs for the "gas ring" on some SP101's chambered for 38 Special. The below article addresses the Service-Six, Speed-Six and Security-Six but Ruger used a similar approach to the SP101's. There were different versions of the SP101 cylinder and the early SP101's (before the current extended frame models) had a prominent "hub" that was far more friendly to mid range, lead 38 Special loads.
    I had one later model SP101 that would shoot jacketed ammo fine but would not tolerate cast lead bullets for more than about 15 rounds.
    Lube, powder, etc. can make its way between the arbor and the cylinder and bind the cylinder.


    From Ed Harris' article on full charge wadcutters:
    ".....The Federal 38G load in particular which used a dry lube with no cannelures on the bullet caused severe cylinder binding in revolvers which do not have a cylinder gas shield.

    A gas shield or cylinder hub prevents gases carrying vaporous lead residue out the cylinder gap, from being deposited between the crane arbor and the cylinder recess on which it rotates. Remington and Winchester versions of these loads had grooved bullets with a heavy, waxy lube were less cranky in that respect, but you still have to be careful about cleaning and lubrication.

    At Ruger, revolvers were assembled with a proprietary lubricant similar to Militec to help prevent the lead from binding. Applying a few drops of Mil-L-63460B (Break Free CLP) in the crane arbor each time you clean also helps. Ruger developed a “hubbed cylinder” version of the Security Six, Speed Six and Service Six revolvers to mitigate the binding problem.

    This required milling a small flat across the barrel extension, which protrudes into the frame opening at the 6:00 position, to clear the hub on the cylinder. Machining the flat reduces the cross section though the barrel extension, which caused heat cracking problems when those revolvers were shot extensively with .357 Magnum ammunition. The hubbed cylinder was used only for law enforcement contracts for revolvers to be fitted with .38 Special cylinders when the lead +P ammo was specified.

    In designing the GP100 revolvers, the charge hole spacing, and distance from the bore to cylinder axis was increased so that the cylinder gas ring could be incorporated without reducing barrel wall thickness through the exposed forcing cone region......."

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's a close up of the gas ring or "hub" used by Ruger on an early model SP101 chambered in 38 Special. It is slightly different than the designs used on later models. It's hard to tell from the photo but the ring protrudes over the arbor. Ruger uses a similar system but with a slight variation of the hub on their newer models.

    This type, shown in the picture above, has the flat cut on the lower edge of the barrel shank, similar to a K-Frame S&W, to provide clearance for the gas ring/hub.
    Last edited by Petrol & Powder; 11-14-2017 at 06:48 PM.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Low Budget Shooter's Avatar
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    again amazed at the stuff you learn on this forum!
    A box of premium carry ammo is too expensive at about $30, so I've spent $1,000 on molds, lead, lube, primers, and powder over the past 10 years to make some that's cheaper!

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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