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Thread: Herco in the 44 Special +P

  1. #1
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Herco in the 44 Special +P

    The only "data" I can find regarding the use of Herco with heavy 44 special +P is in John Taffin's article Reloading the 20th Century 44s.

    In the heavy handloads section Taffin lists loads with the 429421 with Unique going to 9.5 grains and 2400 going to 18 grains! Brian Pearce's article, which includes pressure categories, states that 8.5 grains of Unique is under 22kPSI and 17 grains of 2400 is under 25kPSI with the same bullet. In Handloader 236 by Pearce 8.5 grains of Herco is listed as a max with the 255 grain RCBS Keith bullet at under 22kPSI, which is odd since the same table has Unique going to 8.5 grains and Herco is a slower burn rate.

    Taffin says nothing of pressure, or OAL, and leaves out a lot of what I would consider essential information. He also is doing this in Colts which I understand are not really up to the job of the 25kPSI loads. This I find concerning.

    So I take his suggested loads of Herco (10 to 11 grains with 429421) with a lot of suspicion and have been unable to find any good corroborating load data to indicate they are safe. I have found some I am concerned about...as the 2003 Alliant load manual lists 44 magnum with a 240 grain lead bullet at 12.5 grains Herco seated to 1.6 OAL an 34kPSI! Does shedding only 1.5 grains drop the pressure to ~25kPSI? The 44 special at 12kPSI and 246 grain LRN is only 7.7 grains! So about half way between those is 10 grains. And this is with bullets underweight of the 255-260 grain 429421?

    Does anyone have an old load manual that corroborates this suggestion, like 44 mag data using herco with a deep seated 250 grain Lead bullet (1.550-1.650 OAL) and pressure figures? Does anybody care to plug the info into quickload to get a max load at 25kPSI?

    Herco I speculate is the ideal powder for these applications being bulky and the right approximate burn rate. No other powder available to me in that burn rate zone (between Unique and Blue Dot) is as bulky.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 07-06-2020 at 02:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Chill Wills's Avatar
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    From the Hercules Reloaders’ Guide (fold out chart)
    This is in the form of a LGS counter free hand out.
    Dated 1980
    HERCO powder
    44 S&W Special 180JHC 10.0grns 1050fps 12,600
    44 S&W Special 246L 8.0 825fps 12,000

    No additional info on firearm used or components. One would assume these are MAX loads.
    Chill Wills

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    BTW - with only a little testing on my part of Herco and the RCBS 250K , the Herco did not produce as good accuracy as did my sample loads of Bullseye and 700X so I stopped testing it for now. I would be happy to learn about good loads made up with HERCO and keep trying it.
    I'll have to look, but I think I tested 7.0, 7.5 and 8.0 grain loads. in both a SAA clone and a Smith&Wesson 696
    Chill Wills

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    I don't have any data and I have never used Herco, but I always meant to try it in .38spl+P and in .44spl. Now there is a powder shortage and I can't even try it.......

    Seems like it could be the answer to a powder a little slower than Unique with a little bulk to help with a clean burn.......
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
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    Gary D. Peek

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Grafs and sons has Herco for $19.99 a pound with a flat rate shipping of $9.95 per online order plus a $12.50 hazmat charge. I ordered 3 pounds and a pound of N105 before the shortage gets worse..........
    Last edited by ddixie884; 08-21-2020 at 11:41 AM. Reason: I can spell I just can't type
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    So I tried Herco.

    It seems good to me in this role.

    A member here courteously ran out the H&G503 like bullet (264 grain SWC) on Quickload for me that maxed out at 9.5 grains at ~25KPSI

    I also found some data for PowerPistol from Handloader #260 that ran up to 9 grains with 265 lead bullet and the 429421. Since Herco is slower on every relative burn rate chart and has a greater max charge in every load where they both appear (not many), I think it is safe to say that 9 grains is a decent, if cautious, max load with Herco.

    Theses are just preliminary findings and I have not worked much with these loads yet.

    S&W 624 6.5" barrel. Starline Brass, CCI 300 Primer. MP Molds H&G 503 solid. 264 grains with 96-2-2 aircooled alloy aged three weeks. BHN 10-11. OAL 1.552"

    Herco Velocity Deviation
    8.5 grains 1000 FPS ~10 FPS
    8.7 grains 1030 FPS ~20 FPS
    9.0 grains 1080 FPS ~20 FPS

    The good news here is that I reached my velocity trarget of just under 1100 FPS which is the speed of sound at my elevation/average air temp. This means this is a fairly quiet load and the recoil, though substanisal, is not nearly as disturbing as loads involving 2400 or Blue Dot.

    Unfortunately I was not able to procure some of the "NEW IMPROVED" Herco which supposedly burns cleaner and meters better. I have a lot manufactured in 2016. HERCO is bulky and almost fills the case at 9.0 grains, something that PowerPistol does not. It seems a little dirty burning to me. The feel of the load was quite good. The recoil was not really bad at all. HERCO doesn't meter well. It is worse than the NEW Unique or BlueDot. Don't know why exactly because they powder is nearly visually indistinct from Unique but it had trouble keeping a string of 5 charges within a tenth of a grain.

    At present I don't know if it really works any better than PowerPistol does. All I can say is it definitely fills more of the case and seems a little dirtier.

    I should do a Head-to-Head and like I did with Unique vs. PowerPistol perhaps.

    Barrel looked clean. Accuracy seemed ok but I didn't even take it out to 25 yards to really work it out.
    Last edited by curioushooter; 08-23-2020 at 08:52 PM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Thank you curioushooter, for the Chrony data and also for the info on the Quickload results provided by the other courteous member.....
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
    gary@2texastrucks.com
    Gary D. Peek

  8. #8
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    I'll be back. I'll be loading up 48 with 9 grains of PowerPistol and 48 with Herco with the H&G503 to shoot this upcomming weekend. I think this is going to be my deer hunting load this year for a few places.

    I always hunt in two places. One place is almost always a short distance affair. It's an overgrown abandoned orchard actually. Seldom are shots more than 25 yards and handguns are ideal here. The other place is my friend's farm which has an big hayfiled that deer like to cross. This is where a carefully developed 30-30 load shines.

    I also sometimes hunt on public land. My experience with a particular place is that "hunters" drive deer into remote and rugged areas after a few days into the season and the deer camp there. This is where a handgun load with 50 yard range or so shines. These places are so remote and since no motorized vehicles are allowed if you get a deer there dragging it is a huge chore made far worse by also lugging around a rifle.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    Herco powder is here

    My powder came today so I have 3lbs of Herco to go with my Unique and 2400 but I woke up too late and PP is unobtainium. I have some non Alliant powders and plenty of primers and quite a few bullets although cast bullets don't seem to be as hard to get. I guess I'll concentrate on trying to develop those +P loads with Herco in .38 and .44spl.
    Last edited by ddixie884; 09-16-2020 at 11:03 PM.
    JMHO-YMMV
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by curioushooter View Post
    I'll be back. I'll be loading up 48 with 9 grains of PowerPistol and 48 with Herco with the H&G503 to shoot this upcomming weekend. I think this is going to be my deer hunting load this year for a few places.

    I always hunt in two places. One place is almost always a short distance affair. It's an overgrown abandoned orchard actually. Seldom are shots more than 25 yards and handguns are ideal here. The other place is my friend's farm which has an big hayfiled that deer like to cross. This is where a carefully developed 30-30 load shines.

    I also sometimes hunt on public land. My experience with a particular place is that "hunters" drive deer into remote and rugged areas after a few days into the season and the deer camp there. This is where a handgun load with 50 yard range or so shines. These places are so remote and since no motorized vehicles are allowed if you get a deer there dragging it is a huge chore made far worse by also lugging around a rifle.
    Did you get a chance to try the new loads?
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
    gary@2texastrucks.com
    Gary D. Peek

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I've kind of settled on 7 grains of Unique and a 240 gr. boolit in my Model 24. Don't think it's a +P but it is accurate. I imagine the 24 could handle some hotter loads and I shoot it a bit better than my Super Blackhawk. Never took a deer with a handgun.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    With Unique and Herco, if you have smokey combustion and cannot elevate the charge, consider a slightly heavier crimp. Herco had always worked well for me, especially in .357 Magnum and .45 Colt +P. Based on no scientific measurement whatsoever, I INTUIT that Herco is about 8-10% slower burning than Unique, but in all other respects, just as versatile and predictable.
    The "classic" .44 Special load, either from Skeeter Skelton or Elmer Keith, was 7.5/Unique/240-250 SWC. Perhaps starting at 7.5/Herco/240-250SWC and working up to 8.1-8.3 gr./Herco/240-250SWC might yield usable results?
    For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18
    He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool become servant to the wise of heart. Proverbs 11:29
    ...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40


    Carpe SCOTCH!

  13. #13
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    I recently "re discovered" Herco. I had used it back thirty yeas ago in med warm 12 ga loads. And it worked very well. I recently was fortunate to be able to buy up a quantity of powders from a friends uncle who passed away. (RIP sir!!)
    Any how a couple
    Pounds of sealed Herco was there. Most all the open cans fertalized my back yard but manyy sealed went into the magazine'

    Anyhow with better the. 3# I figured Id better find a use!! So Im starting shot shell
    Loading again and found that its a dandy sub sonic powder for my bolt guns. Both my 350 & 450 are shooting very very well with Herco. I have some maxi loads loaded to try next!

    I dont do 43 cal but I do do 45! And found some 45 Colt loads too!!

    CW
    NRA Life member • REMEMBER, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE its being paid for in BLOOD.
    Come visit my Utube page!!

    https://www.youtube.com/user/cwlongshot

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Check, double-check, and RE-check the loading manuals, but 9.0 - 10.0/Herco/250 RNFP is one of the "sweet spots" with Herco and .45 Colt.
    For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18
    He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool become servant to the wise of heart. Proverbs 11:29
    ...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40


    Carpe SCOTCH!

  15. #15
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    I ran a 44 SPL test using Alliant Herco (purchased last year) under the RCBS 44-250-KT in Starline cases with WLP primers. Bullets were cast of COWW + 2% tin, sized .430 and lubed with 2500+. Test firearm was a Contender with 8.8" barrel. Pressure and velocity measured with the Oehler M43 PBL. Test strings/groups were 10 shots with groups at 50 yards. Ambient temps during tests ran 80 to 82 degrees. FPS is muzzle velocity.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Test strings loaded were with 7.0, 7.5, 8.0, 8.5, 9.0 and 9.5 gr Alliant Herco based on discussion of loads in this thread.

    Results;

    The 7.0 gr Herco load ran 911 fps, SD 15 fps, ES 57 fps, psi 13,700, group 2.25"

    The 7.5 gr Herco load ran 972 fps, SD 15 fps, ES 49 fps, psi 15,900, group 2.1"

    The 8.0 gr Herco load ran 1019 fps, SD 11 fps, ES 28 fps, psi 17,700, group 1.9"

    The 8.5 gr Herco load ran 1072 fps, SD 14 fps, ES 48 fps, psi 20,400, group 2.1"

    The 9.0 gr Herco load ran 1116 fps, SD 14 fps, ES 31 fps, psi 23,100, group 1.25" .... this was only a 7 shot string/group as on the 7th shot the hammer spring in the Contender broke. That brought testing to a halt for the day.

    I replaced the hammer spring and have loaded another test string of 9.0 gr Herco under the 44-250-KT. A test string of 9.0 gr Herco under the Lyman 429421 is also loaded along with "Skeeter's load" of 7.5 gr Unique with both bullets. Hopefully can complete the test next week (Monday or Tuesday) of the Herco 9/0 and 9.5 gr loads along with the two "Skeeter" loads.
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 10-08-2020 at 10:07 AM.
    Larry Gibson

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    ― Nikola Tesla

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Larry, You are so cool. Thanx for running these pressure tests for us. This looks very promising.........
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
    gary@2texastrucks.com
    Gary D. Peek

  17. #17
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    44 SPL with Herco test (cont’d)

    Was able to get out yesterday [12 Oct, 2020] to the range to finish testing the 44 SPL with Alliant herco under the RCBS 44-250-KT. I loaded up two test strings [9.0 gr and 9.5 gr Herco] to redo the last string of the previous test when the Contender hammer broke. I also loaded up those same test loads under some Lyman 429421s cast at the same time as the RCBS bullets were cast.

    The 429421s were the first bullets I cast from a 4 cavity Lyman mould I got from Lloyd not too long back and it casts some excellent bullets. Of the same alloy [COWW +2% tin) cast at the same time from the same pot alternating moulds the RCBS 44-250-KTs weight 254 gr fully dressed and the Lyman 429421s weighed 252 gr fully dressed. Both were sized .430 and lubed with 2500+.

    I also loaded a test string of “Skeeter’s Load” [7.5 gr Alliant Unique] for comparison purposes. Interesting to note the consistent higher psi the Lyman 429421 gave over the RCBS 44-250-KT even though the Lyman was slightly heavier. The reason is simple; the Lyman seats .038” deeper into the case.

    Temperature ran 80 – 85 degrees during the test with 10% humidity. Target was at 50 yards.

    Results;

    The 9.0 gr Herco load under the RCBS 44-250-KT ran 1120 fps, SD 14 fps, ES 42 fps at 23,000 psi, group 1.75”. That is very, very close to the 7 shot test ran the other day.

    The 9.0 gr Herco load under the Lyman 429421 ran 1138 fps, SD 13 fps, ES 35 fps at 25,100 psi, group 1.9”.

    The 9.5 gr Herco load under the RCBS 44-250-KT ran 1155 fps, SD 12 fps, ES 44 fps at 24,400 psi, group 2.0”.

    The 9.5 gr Herco load under the Lyman 429421 ran 1174 fps, SD 11 fps, ES 40 fps at 27,200 psi, group 1.9”.

    The “Skeeter Load” under the RCBS 44-250-KT ran 1030 fps, SD 11 fps, ES 37 fps, at 18,600 psi, group 2.0”

    The “Skeeter Load” under the Lyman 429421 ran 1052 fps, SD 14 fps, ES 41 fps at 20,500 psi, group 2.1”

    Since I do not have a 44 SPL revolver [my 44s are all Magnums] I might just have to load up some of those Lyman 429421s in SPL cases under 9.0 gr for a try out in my old Hawes Western Marshal SA……
    Larry Gibson

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

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master


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    RE the "Skeeter Loads";

    In an earlier thread (not sure which one) I erroneously reported the psi of the RCBS 44-250-KT bullet over 7.5 gr Unique in the 44 SPL as running 23,000 psi. That actually was with the Lee TL429-240-SWC loaded with the crimp in the 2nd crimp groove. My Bad. The Lee bullet consistently gives high psi measurements because it is usually seated deeper. Note again, in the above post, how the deeper seated 429421 gives consistently higher psi than the 44-250-KT. Thus it is with the Lee TL 240 SWC as it is the deepest seating 240 - 255 gr 44 cal bullet I have.

    Also, as with velocity measurements with a chronograph, there are many variables that effect the measurement of psi on any given test. This is why most often you can measure the velocity of the same load (loaded at the same time) on different days and you will get different velocities. We even get some variation in back to back tests of the same load on the same day. There can be even a larger variation when we use the same load "specs" but use different lots of powder, primers and bullets even though they are the "same" and test weeks or even months later. We should not expect psi measurements of the same load to be exactly the same when measured at different times under different conditions. This partially why SAAMI uses, besides the MAP (Maximum Average Pressure), other pressure test figures such as the MPSM (Maximum Probable Sample Mean) and the MEV (Maximum Extreme Variation).
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 10-14-2020 at 09:39 AM.
    Larry Gibson

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

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    That is all great information thanks for posting it.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Thanks for going though all this trouble Larry. Real work here. It's a shame your 'tender broke too!

    It's remarkable how well Quickload corresponds to your testing and what little published info has to offer.

    That said I do not think old Herco (the kind with the knight on the bottle) really outperforms powerpistol in anyway. It is dirtier. Also, I get slightly narrower deviations with PP, probably because it meters better.

    The new herco (with blue label) which supposedly meters better and is clearer burning may be better than PP being a touch slower and more nearly filling available case volume.

    If you want Larry I can send you some #503s lubed or unlubed whatever your preference if you care to work those up. I know a lot of folks here (including myself) love that bullet.

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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