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Thread: Pushing the envelope with Herco in .38spl+P

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

    ddixie884's Avatar
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    Pushing the envelope with Herco in .38spl+P

    Grafs had Herco on sale and I bought 3lbs. I have meant for over 40yrs to try some maximum loads of Herco with 160gr in .38spl. In the 70s I loaded a lot of .38spl mostly with Unique but some of the manuals and magazines were praising max loads of Herco in the area of 6gr with 160gr. Speer #11 and Hornady#II both listed these loads but I never got around to trying them. Yesterday I loaded a short ladder of loads 20 each from 5.4 to 6.0gr in .2gr steps. Today I tried these out on my 1/2 size steel combat target. I wasn't trying for groups just for shoooting impressions. All loads were full power in a LCRX and even 6.0 wasn't painful. I believe the 5.4 will make +P and I'm sure 6.0 probably is the max I will ever use.
    I would not hesitate to use these loads for SD, HD or carry. This Herco has no mention of new cleaner or any such and I would say it is pretty dirty. I put a medium crimp on these and I will try a heavier one in the future. Bullet lube and residue made a gooey mess on the case mouths and I need to work on that. I'll try to post more later. Herco sure isn't as clean as the VV powders I have been testing lately but it isn't as expensive either.........
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
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    Gary D. Peek

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    I have a 2001 manual from Alliant the shows a max load of 4.5 grains of Herco with a 158 grain lead SWC in 38 Special.
    Velocity was supposed to be around 930 fps.
    For +P they showed a max of 4.7 grains.
    I think I would save your load for magnum handguns.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Ozark mike's Avatar
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    None of my books even list herco. But it sounds scary
    Those who would trade freedom for safety deserves neither and will lose both

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by tazman View Post
    I have a 2001 manual from Alliant the shows a max load of 4.5 grains of Herco with a 158 grain lead SWC in 38 Special.
    Velocity was supposed to be around 930 fps.
    For +P they showed a max of 4.7 grains.
    I think I would save your load for magnum handguns.
    tazman,

    I'm surprised at the low charge weights listed for such a slow burn rate powder as Herco. I use HS-6/W540, in which Winchester lists a maximum .38 Spl +P charge weight of 7.2gr for a 158gr lead bullet. I use 7.0gr and get 940fps out of my 2.5" snubbie.

    Don
    NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Lee modern Reloading N0. 1 has 4.5 grains of herco as the max for 158 grain lead in the 38 sp. 7.9 grains in the 357 Mag
    There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism—by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide. Ayn Rand

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSR View Post
    tazman,

    I'm surprised at the low charge weights listed for such a slow burn rate powder as Herco. I use HS-6/W540, in which Winchester lists a maximum .38 Spl +P charge weight of 7.2gr for a 158gr lead bullet. I use 7.0gr and get 940fps out of my 2.5" snubbie.

    Don
    I can't comment on that. I only posted what was in the manual.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Well, like I said I was pushing the envelope but using published charges. I will point out that standard .38spl is 17K and +P is 20K and CIP is 23.2K in Europe. Meanwhile modern manuals often publish loads at just under or over 16K and +P at just over 18K and say never exceed. I don't recommend these loads and if you try them go slow. I on the other hand have fired them from an airweight 5 shot snub and got no indications of pressure and no sticky cases. I am just sharing my experience as I would like others to share with me.

    As an aside I will point out that most mainstream load manuals list practically the same charge as Unique which is a much faster powder than Herco............
    Last edited by ddixie884; 09-24-2020 at 10:10 PM.
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    Boolit Master Harter66's Avatar
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    I recently received a quantity of Herco . My search through manuals lead me to see that it typically was 90% of Unique and 100 fps faster . Very wide brush here and all in 45 ACP and Colts from Lyman 43- Speer #12 . Newer books are lacking . 1974 Hornady gave essentially identical data for both Unique and Herco .

    Ben Amonti at Alliant was very helpful to me some yr ago but may have retired by now . He was more than helpful going to the library for data .
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Harter66 View Post
    I recently received a quantity of Herco . My search through manuals lead me to see that it typically was 90% of Unique and 100 fps faster . Very wide brush here and all in 45 ACP and Colts from Lyman 43- Speer #12 . Newer books are lacking . 1974 Hornady gave essentially identical data for both Unique and Herco .

    Ben Amonti at Alliant was very helpful to me some yr ago but may have retired by now . He was more than helpful going to the library for data .
    Yes, Ben was very helpful and prompt. Hope he is doing well.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Can anyone run this thru Quickload, just for grins and giggles............
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
    gary@2texastrucks.com
    Gary D. Peek

  11. #11
    Warning, unpopular opinion!

    Why push the envelope? Just load the published 38 load or get a 357 and start at the published 38 load and work up a tad in 357 mag brass.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Ozark mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colonelhogan44 View Post
    Warning, unpopular opinion!

    Why push the envelope? Just load the published 38 load or get a 357 and start at the published 38 load and work up a tad in 357 mag brass.
    I agree
    Those who would trade freedom for safety deserves neither and will lose both

  13. #13
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddixie884 View Post
    Can anyone run this thru Quickload, just for grins and giggles............
    Look at your most recent post on this...
    HELP! Need Quickload for .38spl 158gr 6gr Herco.
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...58gr-6gr-Herco
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Just checked it and thank you very much for running this simulation for me. I think your simulation shows this load is under 18.5K psi. Even if you missed the case volume by a little bit, I think I'm at or under 20K. If that is right then I am on the right track. Thanx again for your help............
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
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  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Herco needs a couple tenths of a grain more powder to get the same velocity and pressure as Unique. It is only a little slower. Thus suggestions that about 5.5 grains is upper end Plus P to the 20,000 psi level are most likely accurate.

    Most data such as Lyman shows 5.3 grains Unique is Plus P. Six grains of Herco would be well past that. This based on actual testing rather than a prediction. One is science.....the other a guesstimate.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozark mike View Post
    None of my books even list herco. But it sounds scary
    Perhaps there is a reason most newer manuals don't show data with Herco in the 38 SPL? Could be with the advent and now common usage of piezo-transducer and strain gauge psi measurements which give a complete "picture" of the pressure curve they've found some powders aren't really suitable in some cartridges. Yesterday ran a pressure/velocity test of Alliant Herco in the 38 SPL. Pressure was measured in a Conteder with 7.94" barrel via the Oehler m43 PBL. Fps are muzzle velocities. I used the Lee TL358-158-SWC because when seated with the case crimped in the 1st lube groove it gives about the greatest seating depth of any cast 150 - 160 gr bullet. The Cartridge OAL was 1.465". The bullets were cast of COWW + 2% tin, lubed with LLA and sized at .358 and weight 162 gr fully dressed. Cases were Winchester W-W with WSP primers.

    I loaded 10 shot test strings of 5.4, 5.7, 6.0 and 6.3 gr of Alliant Herco (purchased last year).

    We mostly expect the measured pressure traces (time/pressure curves) to be nice smooth lines going up to max pressure and then tapering off to muzzle exit. Many times they do do that. However, many times they don't. Particularly with straight walled cases we many times see a secondary "bump" in pressure. Sometimes these are sharp bumps and are many times referred to as "spikes". I have seen a lot of secondary pressure bumps and some spikes over the many pressure tests I've conducted. As of this date I've never seen any spikes like the ones I got testing the Herco powder in the 38 SPL.

    Now, before anyone gets all excited and wants to insinuate the Contender test barrel and/or the M43 has some " noise" in it before and after testing the Herco loads I ran a test string of Remington 125 gr jacketed HP factory loads. The traces were as smooth as one would expect w/o any bumps or spikes. Previous test with that Lee bullet have also produced smooth traces with other powders. Thus the test equipment was good leaving suspect the Herco Powder.

    The test results;

    The 5.4 gr Herco load ran 1003 fps, SD 11, ES 27 fps, psi 19,100

    The 5.7 gr Herco load ran 1070 fps, SD 15, ES 40 fps, psi 23,000

    The 6.0 gr Herco load ran 1092 fps, SD 14, ES 42 fps, psi 23,200 ...... all the traces showed very high secondary spikes occurring during each shot. This is the first time I have ever seen a secondary spike in the trace exceed the psi of the primary chamber psi...... perhaps this is why we no longer see Herco data for the 38 SPL?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The 6.3 gr Herco load ran 1135 fps, SD 12, ES 30 fps, psi 25,200

    A subsequent test of the same Herco in the 44 SPL under the RCBS 44-250-KT did not show the sharp spikes but just little secondary bumps in psi which, as previously stated, quite common. Thus, while the internals measured quite uniformly the very sharp and high pressure spikes with Herco in the 38 SPL are of a concern. Caution should be exercised if using Herco in the 38 SPL due to the high end +P+ range of psi in the 38 SPL along with the occurrence of the very sharp and high pressure spikes..
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 10-08-2020 at 12:49 PM.
    Larry Gibson

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  17. #17
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Mr. Gibson...do you have any 'theories' concerning that spike?

    It's cause....perhaps a secondary ignition of all the powder that's lifted in the chamber and unburned at that point and due to the pressure and temperature, it literally explodes...or, a mechanical wave that meets in the bore behind the exiting projectile as a 'collision of standing waves' mechanically?

    I'd be very interested in hearing you 'spitwad' this one...since this is such an unusual occurance.

    thanks charlie
    a m e r i c a n p r a v d a

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  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I've considerable different theories and conjectures, none provable w/o considerable test equipment beyond my means. Most perplexing is the absence of the spikes in the 44 SPL test loads....???? Perhaps beyond the means of even the factories? Maybe that's just the reason some powders have been dropped from the reloading manuals because they just can't explain it either?
    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 OS OK's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, I appreciate it.
    When you have nothing to go on, nothing hard fact-wise...all you have are your theories but they certainly are worth exploring just for the giggle factor if nothing else. One mans thoughts often spur others into thinking a little deeper or in a different direction.
    Lot'z of our so called science is based in theory.
    a m e r i c a n p r a v d a

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  20. #20
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    Im please And surprised at the up tic I see with Herco powder use!!!

    I have a open pound from The days when I loaded shotgun shells. I remember this was a
    Med heavy field load of 13/8 oz in my 12!! That was before 1989!!! Hahaha. I picked up a couple Pounds from a friends uncle who passed. (RIP) Because I know had more then 3# and really no perspectives for use I started checking. I found useable 45 Colt and 357 loads. I also have burned over a 1/2# 7.3g at a time from my 350 Legend shooting subsonic thumpers!!!
    I thought I was alone but numerious postings across as many forums I am on says different! Wonder if there is something in the collective "water".

    In any event, love the ALWAYS informative posts Larry!! You never fail to educate!

    CW
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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"
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check