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Thread: Blue Dot; Hercules vs Alliant test

  1. #1
    Boolit Master


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    Blue Dot; Hercules vs Alliant test

    All

    As promissed I finally had some decent weather and conducted the test. It is lengthy and will require several posts to put it all together.

    Hercules Blue Dot VS Alliant Blue Dot; .44 Magnum



    Date: 15 April, 2009
    Location: Tacoma Rifle and Revolver Range, University Place, Washington
    Time: 1300 1600
    Temperature: 43 50 degrees F.
    Atmospheric pressure: 29.92
    Wind: 2-5 mph from 0530
    Test instrument: Oehler M43 Personal Ballistics Laboratory
    Test Cartridge: .44 Magnum
    Test Case: WW Winchester
    Test primer: Federal 150 Large Pistol
    Test Powders:
    Hercules Blue Dot lot #BD152 purchased 10-15+ years ago as the price was $11.89
    Alliant Blue Dot lot #289 shift 2, Feb 22, 2008 with a price of $20.89
    Powder charge weights: 14.5 to 18.4 gr in .5 grain increments with all charges weighed on a Redding
    powder scale
    Test Bullet: RCBS 44-250-K cast of 60-40 WW (new) linotype alloy, weight 252 gr, sized .430 in
    Lyman 450 and lubed with Javelina
    Load OAL: 1.705
    Crimp: Case mouth crimped completely under edge of forward driving band
    Loading dies used: RCBS with carbide sizer
    Shots in test string; 5
    Test sequence: a test string was fired with the Hercules powder then the subsequent test string was of the same charge weight of Alliant powder. Thus test strings were concurrent from 14.5 gr up through the 18.4 gr powder charge weight

    Results:
    The M43 PBL provides much information that would result in an overly long report. Pertinent to the question of the difference between the older Hercules Blue Dot and the new Alliant Blue Dot is the comparison of velocity and pressure per a equal charge weight of each powder. Thus I shall report the muzzle velocity (corrected to muzzle by the M43) and the pressure (rounded to nearest 100 psi so 20,500 psi will read 20,5) for each powder charge weight of both Hercules and Alliant Blue Dots. The format will read the powder charge with the initial H or A in front, the muzzle velocity and the pressure in psi(M43).
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 07-09-2009 at 11:37 AM.

  2. #2
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    Page 2

    H14.5/1330/24,3
    A14.5/1310/25,2
    H15/1368/26,3
    A15/1340/27,4
    H15.5/1412/28,5
    A15.5/1380/28,3
    H16/1447/30,4
    A16/1438/31,6
    H16.5/1493/32,6
    A16.5/1464/31,4
    H17/1521/32,4
    A17/1498/32,8
    H17.5/1541/31,4*
    A17.5/1527/31,4*
    H18/1565/29,1*
    A18/1569/24,4*
    H18.4/1589/20,5*
    A18.41583/23,0*

    * Note; these pressures are not misprints.

    Discussion/conclusion; the tests proved interesting to say the least. I did not find any incident or indication of “pressure spikes”. To the contrary I found that as the load (17.5 gr and above) exceeded 100% loading density and be came compressed the pressure curve became longer with less pressure. As the powder charge increased and compression of the powder charge became greater the bottom literally fell out pressure wise. The velocity increase per increased powder charge also began to lesson. I discussed this at length with Dr, Oehler. While he modestly says he is not a ballistician (he is a gentleman of the old school) he thinks that ignition is a problem with the compressed loads. A magnum primer may or may not improve ignition and would have to be tested.

    Quite frankly I find the 17 gr load of either the Hercules or the Alliant Blue Dot powder to be a good practical maximum with this bullet. Looking at the graph of PSI vs Powder charge we see that 17 gr is the peak with both powders. However when we look at the graph of FPS vs Powder charge it is difficult to make that distinction when comparing them to each other. The old Hercules Blue Dot loading data per Lyman was 15 to 18.4 gr with the 429421 cast bullet. The new Alliant Blue Dot data as per the “New Edition” 48th Lyman manual is 14.5 to 16 gr with that same 429421 cast bullet. Interesting to note is that with 429244 they listed 14 to 17.4 gr of Alliant Blue Dot. The Lyman pressures are lited in CUPs which aren’t directly convertible to psi so I won’t go there.

    Keep in mind also the TC Contender hasn’t the long throat or the barrel/cylinder gap of revolvers. Thus the pressures in revolvers would no doubt be a little less per given powder charge. I will work up the same loads with Alliant Blue Dot from 14.5 to 17.5 gr in the gr increments. I will then test these in my Ruger BH 50th Anniversary with 6 ” barrel. Of course I do not have a strain gauge on the Ruger so I will be depending on the chronographed results to give indications of a good load, a bad load or “pressure spiking’.

  3. #3
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    Page 3

    I’ve graphed out comparing the FPS gain per charge weight and the psi gain per charge weight.

    Looking at both graphs it is apparent that with this test both the Hercules and Alliant Blue Dots are within normal lot to lot variation of each other. Basically, based on this test with a normal weight range cast bullet, there is no apparent difference between them either in burning rate or burning characteristics. Further testing with light weight jacketed bullets is in order but with the current situation I’ve not been able to find either 180 or 200 gr .44 jacketed bullets. Further testing in other cartridges such as the .357 and .41 magnums is in order also.
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 07-09-2009 at 11:37 AM.

  4. #4
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    Page 4

    The photo of the fired cases is as they were fired in order. The green box contained the Hercules loads and the red box the Alliant loads. There was no indication of cartridges stick as all were easily extracted from the chamber of the Contender barrel with fingers. There is no appreciable indication of pressure by the look of the primers.

    I shall continue to use Alliant Blue Dot as I find it to be a very fine powder for certain applications as id found the old Hercules Blue Dot to be. When using Alliant Blue Dot in a cartridge for which I only have older Hercules Blue Dot loads I will carefully work up loads again. I suggest anyone taking this data to do so with caution and work up your own loads as per instructions in all loading manuals.

    Larry Gibson
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 07-09-2009 at 11:37 AM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Larry, Great report! One question about the pressure curves, though. Why is the Hercules BD curve smoother than the Alliant BD curve?

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    Yet another reason I love this forum so much, where else would you find the amount of real working knowledge that you can find here! Larry, outstanding article, well written and succinct.
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    Hot, diggity, dog! Way to go Larry! The mag primer should push out the boolit giving more ignition room. Maven discovered this, and I have verified it, several years ago. If you going to compress, use some poly balls for some buffer so that no powder gets actually compressed. See if the chrono can pick up this difference as well. ... felix
    felix

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Maven View Post
    Larry, Great report! One question about the pressure curves, though. Why is the Hercules BD curve smoother than the Alliant BD curve?
    The Hercules Blue Dot seemed to give more consistant ignition as the SD/ES were smaller for the most part through out the range of loads. This is but one test and many times one particuler load will show an anomoly that scews a single line graph. Best would be to shoot perhaps 3 series of the same test and then "average" the results. One usnually will see a "smoother" graph line on those. Even though the Alliant looks more crooked than the hercules line both are within lot to lot variations. I.E. 3 lots of Alliant test loads may well overlap the Herculles graph line. On the other hand they could all be to one side of the Hercules line. However when you compare the FPS graph to the PSI graph it appears the Alliant is slower burning on one and faster burning on the other. That's why it is important to look at data from various perspectives. Graphing them out is "visual" and usually a help. Also that the lines flip flop on the two graphs indicates to me the two powders are within "lot to lot" variation.

    Larry Gibson

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    Boolit Master Rocky Raab's Avatar
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    Fascinating, Larry. Not what I expected to see, but data is data.

    I agree that the compressed powder effect is probably an ignition issue, and I also agree that compression ought to signal the effective maximum charge, as there is no telling what might happen if one bullet released early, or crept forward under recoil. Pressures might then go north in a hurry!
    Please visit my shooting articles at www.reloadingroom.com and my Vietnam novels at www.rockyraab.com (Do use Firefox, NOT Internet Exploder)

  10. #10
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    I have heard of pressure excursions in cold weather with BD, it would be interesting to put a few rounds on dry ice and then pressure test them.

    Wondering if powder compression causes the powder to burn more like a cigarette ?

    Does your test instrument give you a pressure time curve ?? And if it does do the lower pressures with the larger charge show a different curve ?

    The only center fire straight walled TC barrels I have experience with are 357 maximum, and both barrels I have owned had a very long shallow taper type throat.

    I remember reading a test by Clark the overloader where he crammed more and more Lilgun in a 357 magnum, and got more and more recoil, but as he later found out, no pressure increase, and no velocity increase, the recoil increase was from the added weight of the powder, which to a degree counts as a projectile in recoil calculations.

    The early 454 casull ammo used a trinary charge of 3 different powders, that was so heavily compressed that some of the powders were smashed into little cakes.

    Also kudos for the data, and do not take this the wrong way, but 5 rounds is not nearly enough to calculate SD that is meaningful in any way.

    Bill
    Both ends WHAT a player

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Boondocker's Avatar
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    I am certainly impressed, I have a lot to learn and I sure dont want to shoot my chronograph. Great report Larry and I was always just happy to get a bang. Boon

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks for all your effort and the report.

    For years I've used and recommended Bluedot for use in many cartridges, and someone always brings up the "peaky" and "low temperature excursions". I have never experienced either of these problems. I've also used heavier charges of Bluedot for a given boolit weight in .44 magnum and didn't quote it in the name of internet safety. Your results use loads as heavy as I have for the last 20 years with comparable velocities and complete safety.

    I probably have enough of the old Hercules Bluedot stored to last me as long as I live, but it's good to see that the Alliant Bluedot can be substituted if I run low.
    You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

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    I've experienced this at temps down in the teens. A real live test would either verify my suspicions or do away with them.

    Wonder if Hercules/Alliant or wahtever they call themselves have this data for release?

    Anybody know?/beagle

    Quote Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
    I have heard of pressure excursions in cold weather with BD, it would be interesting to put a few rounds on dry ice and then pressure test them.

    Wondering if powder compression causes the powder to burn more like a cigarette ?

    Does your test instrument give you a pressure time curve ?? And if it does do the lower pressures with the larger charge show a different curve ?

    The only center fire straight walled TC barrels I have experience with are 357 maximum, and both barrels I have owned had a very long shallow taper type throat.

    I remember reading a test by Clark the overloader where he crammed more and more Lilgun in a 357 magnum, and got more and more recoil, but as he later found out, no pressure increase, and no velocity increase, the recoil increase was from the added weight of the powder, which to a degree counts as a projectile in recoil calculations.

    The early 454 casull ammo used a trinary charge of 3 different powders, that was so heavily compressed that some of the powders were smashed into little cakes.

    Also kudos for the data, and do not take this the wrong way, but 5 rounds is not nearly enough to calculate SD that is meaningful in any way.

    Bill
    diplomacy is being able to say, "nice doggie" until you find a big rock.....

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    Larry, BTW, good tests. Thanks for sharing it with us./beagle
    diplomacy is being able to say, "nice doggie" until you find a big rock.....

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    Boolit Master


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    Willbird

    I have heard of pressure excursions in cold weather with BD, it would be interesting to put a few rounds on dry ice and then pressure test them.

    Wondering if powder compression causes the powder to burn more like a cigarette ?

    Probably something like that. Seems with the straight walled cases a "wad" of powder could easily be pushed down the bore.

    Does your test instrument give you a pressure time curve ?? And if it does do the lower pressures with the larger charge show a different curve ?

    Yes the Oehler m43 does show the time pressure curve. I also lists the area and time under the pressure curve. The "curves" of the heavier charges where pressure was lower are very interesting indeed!

    The only center fire straight walled TC barrels I have experience with are 357 maximum, and both barrels I have owned had a very long shallow taper type throat.

    I remember reading a test by Clark the overloader where he crammed more and more Lilgun in a 357 magnum, and got more and more recoil, but as he later found out, no pressure increase, and no velocity increase, the recoil increase was from the added weight of the powder, which to a degree counts as a projectile in recoil calculations.

    sounds reasonable based on my tests.

    The early 454 casull ammo used a trinary charge of 3 different powders, that was so heavily compressed that some of the powders were smashed into little cakes.

    Also kudos for the data, and do not take this the wrong way, but 5 rounds is not nearly enough to calculate SD that is meaningful in any way.

    I have many times mentioned that a 5 round test is only and "indication" of SD. However many worship SD to the exclusion of SD which is *** backwards to my way of thinking. I believe the SD needs to be within a certain percentage parameter of the ES to me meaningfull of a good load. You are right, 5 rounds does not really cut it as far as SD is concerned.

    Larry Gibson

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    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky Raab View Post
    Fascinating, Larry. Not what I expected to see, but data is data.

    I agree that the compressed powder effect is probably an ignition issue, and I also agree that compression ought to signal the effective maximum charge, as there is no telling what might happen if one bullet released early, or crept forward under recoil. Pressures might then go north in a hurry!
    In the case of straight walled cases I concur.

    Larry Gibson

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    454PB

    ......I probably have enough of the old Hercules Bluedot stored to last me as long as I live, .........you lucky dog

    Larry Gibson

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    Boolit Master
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    Real nice Larry, Thanks

    good luck

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    Boolit Master Slow Elk 45/70's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing , and your time, effort, powder, primers boolits etc. , great Post.
    Slow Elk 45/70

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  20. #20
    Boolit Master fourarmed's Avatar
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    Very interesting, Larry. Now I wonder why the warnings came out. The two powders appear to give results about as identical as any variables subject to random error can be. Especially considering n=5. Presumably their .357/125 and .41 mag tests did not give results as uniform as yours.

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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