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Thread: Lil Gun, Cast Bullets, and My .30-06

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Lil Gun, Cast Bullets, and My .30-06

    After having read various reviews of Lil Gun (more unfavorable than favorable), and several loading manuals, I was a bit hesitant to use the stuff, especially as a reduced load in my .30-06. According to several burn rate charts (Hand Loader #317, Lyman's latest manual), Lil Gun is slightly slower than #2400 and the equal of SR-4759. That makes it a viable propellant for CB loads. Today I tested that hypothesis and chronographed the results, which I confess surprised me a bit. Is it accurate? You bet; actually as accurate as the 12.5gr. charge of Unique I use with gc'd CB's in my .30-06. However, 18.5gr. -> only 1156 fps +- 17 fps with a CBE 195gr. Loverin (gc'd). I'd like to bump up the velocity a bit, say to 1,400 fps with something like 175gr. - 185gr. CB's, so I am thinking 20.5gr. - 21.5gr. max. may be the answer. Btw, the case necks were hardly sooty at all and the primers showed no signs of pressure.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master gpidaho's Avatar
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    I'm a LilGun fan. It's my go to powder for 300 blackout and is excellent powder in many handguns and the 410 shotgun. Gp

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I'm a Lil'Gun fan too. In the 22 hornet. I see that it is great in the 300 BO and a few other cartridges. It's not so great in a 303 Brit. It burns way slower in the hornet than 4227 but in the Brit it burns way faster! In short, I would stay away from it in large capacity cases.

    Just to give an idea how weird the stuff is, in the 22 hornet I can get higher velocity with it than the larger capacity k-hornet. Hodgdon have even dropped the 55gr k-hornet loading for it. In the k-hornet, it produced higher pressure and lower velocity than the standard hornet with 55gr bullets. In the Brit, I had my first ever hard to open bolt after firing and I'm not talking stiff loads. 20gr I think it was. 4227 can go up to something like 28grs.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

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  4. #4
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    That's good to know, 303Guy!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Bad Ass Wallace's Avatar
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    I prefer powder that is a bit slower in my A3 Springfield 31gn 3031 or (in Australia 31.5gn 2206) for 1740fps. There is no doubt it is accurate with a Lyman 311284 sized to 0.310".

    Hold Still Varmint; while I plugs Yer!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    BAW, I do as well, but I have 2 lb. of the stuff and am trying to find a use for it.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    The Lil'Gun naysayers are all revolver types (or camp followers thereof) who don't understand that it never was intended to be a pistol powder. (The original target market was the .410 shotgun.) It has a "fat tail" to the pressure/time curve, which burns top straps in revolvers, but in rifles it yields better MV for any given peak pressure.

    In my experience nothing can touch it for the Hornet and my .22 Lovells. I also got a very good 180 grain bullet load for the .357 Maximum in a 12" Contender. I tested it a little in the 7.5x55 Swiss cartridge, too. Good, but I opted for a Blue Dot load which was better.
    Eleutheromaniac

  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpidaho View Post
    I'm a LilGun fan. It's my go to powder for 300 blackout and is excellent powder in many handguns and the 410 shotgun. Gp
    I have some coated cast RNFP 158 grain bullets and Lil' Gun powder. Can anyone suggest a starting load for this combination in an AR15?

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold
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    I saw your post on reply to Lil Gun Powder and liking it for the 22 Hornet.
    I finally found a little bit of it to try in my new hornet. (1885 Win Hi-wall) question: are you using small pistol primers with it?
    Was recommended to me to try 12.6 grs of it behind a 40 gr bullet and the S pistol primers. Can't find any newer vmax for it, have to use older Hornady's that I have.
    Have older 45 gr and 50 gr and 55 gr to try next. Haven't shot the 12.6 gr load yet.
    Would appreciate any advice on it.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    12.6 of Lil-Gun is absurd. That much won't even fit in the case.

    I built myself a Stevens 44-1/2 for the Hornet. For a 45 grain I stopped at 11.4, and that's well into the red zone at 50,000 psi.. Brass life was short. Sticky extractions were too frequent. Needless to say, rifle primers only. I stopped doing that.

    The Hornet was a 2400 fps cartridge as originally conceived. Lil-Gun will get you to 2700 with reasonable brass life in strong actions like the High Wall. Don't push it. My top load for a 40 grain bullet now would be 10.4 grains of Lil-Gun in the original Hornet chamber.

    I soon reamed both my Hornets out to the "K" configuration. More powder space, less taper, better brass life. Fireform once, neck-size only thereafter. (The case now headspaces on the shoulder.) I highly recommend it. But I still wouldn't load for more than 2700 fps.

    The Contender is still a Hornet. The Stevens has been enlarged yet again to .22-3000 R2 Lovell. It also loves Lil-Gun.
    Eleutheromaniac

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Not sure what Hornet cases you're using but my standard 22 Hornet load for several years has been 12.5 gr Lil'Gun in R-P cases with a 45 gr Hornady Hornet SP bullet. It's not hard to get that amount in the case at all. Will admit that 13 gr can be a little dicey but 12.5 gr is easy.

    Pressure testing in a Contender 21" barrel [SAAMI MAP for the 22 Hornet is a surprising 49,000 psi];

    Winchester factory 46 gr JHP; 2514 fps at 24,900 psi

    Hornady 45 SP over 12.5 gr H110; 2840 fps at 29400 psi

    Hornady 45 SP over 11.5 gr H4227; 2539 fps at 26,000 psi

    Hornady 45 SP over 12.5 gr Lil'Gun; 2704 fps at 20,000 psi

    Velocity out of 24" barreled Savage M40;

    Hornady 45 SP over 12.5 gr Lil'Gun; 2910 fps

    Sierra 40 gr Hornet .224 over 13 gr Lil'Gun; 3,020 fps.

    Accuracy with both loads runs right at 3/4 moa with 10 shot groups at 100 yards.

    I picked up a jug of Lil'Gun a couple years ago but other than the 32 S&WL and 32 H&R haven't really done a lot with it. Planning on testing it in the 7.62x39, 30-30, 308W and now the 30-06 under 200+ gr cast bullets.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    WWSuper headstamp. Unless my balance is wildly off, a FL sized case full to the brim of Lil'Gun, no room for a bullet, weighs 12.7 grains tonight. Curious. Pressures computed a Quickload. Can it be that far off?
    Eleutheromaniac

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by uscra112 View Post
    WWSuper headstamp. Unless my balance is wildly off, a FL sized case full to the brim of Lil'Gun, no room for a bullet, weighs 12.7 grains tonight. Curious. Pressures computed a Quickload. Can it be that far off?
    Hard to say. The psi's I posted were for comparison only. I had not found any load data that is in "psi" nor did I have any ammunition that could be used as "reference" ammunition. Thus the psi figures are the raw numbers w/o the conversion with a "correction factor".

    Hodgdon Data site lists this for a 45 gr jacketed bullet;

    Starting Load Maximum Loads
    Manufacturer Powder Bullet Diam. C.O.L Grs. Vel. (ft/s) Pressure Grs. Vel. (ft/s) Pressure
    Hodgdon Lil'Gun 0.224" 1.850" 12.0 2,641 35,700 CUP 13.0 2,770 38,500 CUP

    There not being any reliable conversion of CUP to psi, suffice to say in comparison of the raw psi data I posted, the Lil'Gun load (12.5 gr) under the 45 gr bullet gave less pressure than either of the accepted loads or the factory Winchester round.

    However, if we use SAAMI's CUP and psi MAPs [43,000 CUP & 49,000 psi] to get a conversion factor [.88] and use that we can then correlate the Hodgdon max load [38,500 CUP] as giving 43,750 psi. Both figures, the CUP and the "corrected psi", are proportional to their respective SAAMI MAPs and thus, we can assume them to be close to correct. Based on that correction factor the raw pressure data I posted can be correlated to corrected psi;

    Winchester factory 46 gr JHP; 2514 fps at 28,300 psi

    Hornady 45 SP over 12.5 gr H110; 2840 fps at 33,400 psi

    Hornady 45 SP over 11.5 gr H4227; 2539 fps at 29,600 psi

    Hornady 45 SP over 12.5 gr Lil'Gun; 2704 fps at 22,800 psi

    The old adage of "liars figure, figures lie" has some merit when we begin to really "guestimate" as a lot depends on the quality and correctness of the data input. That applies not only to Quickload but to other formulas attempting to guestimate pressure....including my own "estimates" in this post using correlation corrections. That is why when making comparisons of pressure for a given cartridge I prefer to use the raw data that was actually measured. It may not give the precise pressure but it does give a valid comparison.

    Even with the correlation corrections we still see the Lil'Gun giving less psi than even the Winchester factory round but still no where near your Quickload "guestimate".

    Note; CIP [kind of the European equivalent of SAAMI] does list a PMAP of 30,000 psi for the 22 Hornet using piezo-transducer pressure measurement. Which is much closer to what I am measuring.
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 04-28-2021 at 11:39 AM.
    Larry Gibson

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

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    I'm not a fan of Lil-Gun, but my experience was using it in a Rossi 92 .44 Mag carbine. A small number of shots heated up the barrel dramatically, indicating to me that the burn temperature is far hotter than any other powder I've ever used. I have many other powders that work very well in .44 Mag, so I quit using Lil'Gun and didn't give it a second thought.

    Interestingly though, I've been following a few Lil'Gun threads and I'm wondering if the formulation may have changed in the past few years. I've seen a number of posts where the shooter indicates the barrel heats up no faster than with other powders. These were new users of Lil'Gun who recently purchased it. My pount of Lil'Gun is from about 11 or 12 years ago. However, it may just be that those shooters didn't really pay much attention to how hot their barrel was, and the powder may still be the same formulation, who knows.

    Regardless, if you find a use where it works well for you, then by all means run with it.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    The idea that a powder "burns hot" is a myth. Boyle's Law is all you need to know.
    Eleutheromaniac

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy 6thtexas's Avatar
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    I used to shoot 13.0 grains of LilGun with a 40 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip in my Ruger #3. I seated them out to almost touch the lands and the Ruger shot really well with that load. Case life was good, too.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    You think this powder might have any application in .410 shot shells?

  18. #18
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    The .410 was what it was originally marketed for. Hence the name.
    Eleutheromaniac

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    Lil’Gun was designed for the .410. Its superlative in 3” hulls.

    I too use 12.5gr of Lil’Gun in the Hornet under a 40gr JHP. 13.2 will fit(Hodgdons max), but 12.5 gives better accuracy and brass life. With a Winchester small pistol primer gives 3,000fps and MOA accuracy from my Ruger M77/22Hornet KBZ (24”bbl, tan laminate stock, stainless finish).
    Originally and preferably I use the Sierra &0gr Varminiter, but I bought 1,000 Armscor 40gr RN-jhp’s for $58.00 from Grafs.
    Same load is a shooter in the.218Bee, but the Bee prefers a 45gr Sierra SMP over 14.0gr of 4198. 2,850 and MOA from the Marlin M1894CL.

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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