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Thread: Survey on your favorite S&W .500 Magnum loads and for which version of Smith and Wess

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Survey on your favorite S&W .500 Magnum loads and for which version of Smith and Wess

    Just curious as to those that shoot this powerhouse and what your favorite loads are and what version of Smith and Wesson you carry. So far my two favorites are 15 grains of Trail Boss with John Ross's 450 grain bullet and 53.5 grains BL-C2 under John's 500grain WIDE flat nose for now. These are out of two of Ross's 5 inch versions.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master boatswainsmate's Avatar
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    I have one these. I've used BLC-2, AA-9 and CFE Black so far. I've shot bullets I've bought and the one's I've made with these 2 bullet molds. I stopped shooting once the weather got bad and I bruised my hand.



  3. #3
    Boolit Master John Ross's Avatar
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    Nice to see the 5" guns so well represented!

    The loads I shoot a lot of are not necessarily the "best" ones for this gun, but are influenced by the fact that I have a large quantity of surplus powders of several types on hand that cost me next to nothing back when Kent and I were bidding at gov't surplus auctions.

    We'd take the gov't description, scratch our heads to figure out what it might be equivalent to, and lowball bid it. If we won, we'd run the powder in some loads through our pressure gun, and label it according to what the grain size looked like and the equivalent burning speed.

    As an example, "BL-28 (4198)" was what we called a black-colored extruded powder with .028" grain size and 4198 burning characteristics. I gave samples of the powders we had in the appropriate burning ranges to two champion benchrest shooters I knew for them to test, and they confirmed the surplus powders gave no loss of accuracy in their match guns.

    Soon we were selling drum after drum of "BR-32 (H322)" (or whatever) to competitors who came from all around the country to each pick up a couple hundred pounds of powder. This last was a brown-colored powder with .032" grains that behaved like H322.

    The point is, loading the .500 for my own use, I prefer to use a powder that I already have on hand if it works well, rather than go spend $20+ a pound on something else. That said, here are some of my favorite loads:

    450 grain Ross long range bullet .700" nose, 40% meplat, .300" shank
    40 gr. WC820 1650 FPS
    49 gr. H322 1360 FPS
    58.5 gr. BLC-2 1335 FPS*

    510 grain Ross sledgehammer bullet .700" nose, 95% meplat, .300" shank
    40 gr. WC820 1550 FPS
    34 gr. 4759 1400 FPS
    57 gr. BLC-2 1300 FPS

    550 Ross long range bullet .700" nose, 40% meplat, .500" shank
    29 gr. 4759 1320 FPS

    640 Ross hunting bullet .700" nose, 65% meplat, .625" shank
    23.7 gr. 4759 1080 FPS
    31.2 gr. 4198 1100 FPS
    31 gr. H322 905 FPS
    38.2 gr. BLC-2 900 FPS**

    725 grain Ross sledgehammer bullet .700" nose, 95% meplat, .695" shank
    20.1 gr. 4759 925 FPS
    29.2 gr. 4198 1035 FPS
    36.3 gr. BLC-2 905 FPS

    *9 FPS extreme spread 5 shots
    ** 2 FPS extreme spread 5 shots (NOT a typo)

    COMMENTS:

    WC820 is similar to H110/WW296 but about 2% faster. Substitute H110 for slightly less pressure and velocity.

    None of the loads listed are max, but drop the WC820 loads a grain or two to start, and do the same with 4198 if using the 640 gr. and 725 gr. bullets. You can try 4198 in loads with bullets lighter than 600 grains, but my experience is you can't get enough pressure with these lighter bullets and 4198 to avoid a bunch of scorched powder grains dirtying up your gun. This problem does not happen with BLC-2 and H322.

    The now-discontinued 4759 is a wonderful powder for the .500 for powerful but not maximum loads. I don't think you can create a .500 overload with an OAL of 2.32" or less and 4759 unless you use a bullet made of something that's denser than lead. All bets are off if you load for an Encore, BFR, or other gun where you can load to a longer OAL, but with a S&W you won't be able to close the cylinder on an overload using 4759.
    Last edited by John Ross; 02-12-2018 at 08:20 AM. Reason: clarity
    JR--the .500 specialist

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Interesting note on the surplus powders. On a camping/shooting weekend with Kent he brought down some powder he referred to as 872 if memory serves. Very slow powder that dad used in his two 30.06 03 Springfields with a heavy bullet. I had plans at the time of getting a .50 Browning bolt gun and using that for loading but my son was diagnosed with autism shortly after and my wife quit work to be at home with him and the financial hit threw those plans out the window. Still have quite bit left.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master John Ross's Avatar
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    We bought tons (literally) of various .50 BMG powders, of which WC872 was just one. In those days I had an ammunition manufacturer's license and was loading blasting ammo for .50 shooters for $1.35 a round, $0.70 for reloading brass from military ammo fired in their bolt gun, and only $0.45 a round to reload ammo that I had loaded that they had shot in their bolt gun.

    I came up with these prices based on what I had to charge to make at least $100 an hour for my time. With reloads, I could neck size only and crank out 370 an hour on my progressive loader. Cost was 11 cents for the primer, 3 cents for ball bullets (bought in 55 gallon drums as "copper-bearing steel scrap"), and a penny for the powder.

    Loaded ammo required buying .50 brass @ $0.06 scrap price, FL sizing, trimming, pocket swaging, and then paying 11% excise tax after loading.

    Loading brass from military ammo fired in a bolt gun still required depriming and pocket swaging before running through the progressive.

    Sorry for the thread drift down memory lane. Back to .500 S&W loads...
    JR--the .500 specialist

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Hey, drift down memory lane all you want, it's never dull. Actually, more of it please. Like I said Kent was a friend but I didn't know him as long as you and he told me quite a lot but I'm sure it just scratched the surface.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master John Ross's Avatar
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    Some people insist on using only loads that are printed in a hard-copy loading manual provided by a powder company. If the powder isn't listed for their cartridge in a manual, they won't use it, period.

    This is based on the good sense that different powders are designed to work well at different pressure levels. Shotgun powders work well at much lower pressure levels than those designed for bolt action rifle calibers, and it would be wise not to load your '06 with shotgun powder.

    However, these "Never if not in a printed manual" folks fail to apply a bit of common sense to their thinking. You will never see printed load data for 4350 or 4831 powder in the .223, but that's not because you might get hurt or damage your gun if you use them. These powders cannot generate enough pressure in the .223 to get the velocity that most people want from this cartridge. Leaving that out, there may or may not be other reasons not to use these powders thusly, like poorer accuracy, but there is no way to find this out without trying them.

    One thing that I have always done without concern that scares "printed manual" devotees is to use a powder much slower than what is normally used. Back when 4831 cost a third of the other IMR powders, I loaded a .222 Remington Magnum Improved case full to the brim with 4831 and chronographed it while shooting at a target. Velocity was something like 2600 FPS with a 52 grain match bullet but it was uniform and 10 shots went into .7" @ 100 yards.

    2600 FPS may be all you need if you're potting groundhogs at the farm and the farthest shot you can take on your property is 200 yards.

    Similarly, I've shot .458s with cases full of surplus .50 MG powder and 500 grain bullets. Velocity was only 1450 FPS but it was accurate, cheap, and fun to shoot.

    Your dad was on to this using WC872 and 220 grain bullets in his '06.

    I've done a fair amount of testing with what most people think of as "rifle powders" in the .500 S&W, and I've never had a concern that I might hurt myself or damage the gun. Some loads may be inaccurate or dirty up the gun with scorched powder, but others work great, like BLC-2 or H322, despite the fact that you'll not find these loads in any Hodgdon manual.
    JR--the .500 specialist

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy Warhawk's Avatar
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    My JR500, recently purchased from Mr Ross. I have to admit that I have not loaded any ammo for it, nor shot it yet. Soon.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
    Plate plinker's Avatar
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    Wow those are nice looking guns. I missed out on that deal.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master John Ross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plate plinker View Post
    Wow those are nice looking guns. I missed out on that deal.
    I still have some... PM me.
    JR--the .500 specialist

  11. #11
    I use 3 different molds , two are from NEI- a 545g RFN and a 335g TC plus the Lee 440g FNgc. Experimented alot as I snagged the 1st S&W to hit our area when introduced. Before data was available I interpolated loads starting from .50-70 Govt data using AA5744, produced some fantastically accurate loads at moderate velocities and pressures. I actually swaged some slugs down to size from couple of .50-70 style molds also as well as developing mild loads with the Lee 320g REAL molds for muzzleloaders!
    Eventually I settled on 3 powders. TrailBoss is used with both plainbase slugs for mild but very authorative when they impact loads. The Lee slug sits on top of a starting load of H4227 and runs a moderate 1300fps from my PC 10-1/2” for a smooth hunting/London range for NE Miss combo. The much hated by many Lil’Gun powers the 545g to 1350fps and is more than most people want in the recoil dept. especially in say the 4” and survival “bear” models

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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