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How Many Rounds To Test A New Load?


revchuck

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About a month ago I shot my first big USPSA match, the Gator Classic. I had a great time due to the excellently run match and having a bunch of other revolver shooters on my squad. :) I had serious ammo problems, though, and have nobody but myself to blame for them.

I decided to go high tech and try to shoot some moly coated bullets. There's not much choice in .38 caliber; I ordered some 147s from Precision and some 150s from MasterBlaster. The Precision bullets were 9x19 bullets sized .358 but had pretty big flat points on them. They shot well but didn't load as quickly as the pointy MasterBlaster RNs, so I ended up using the MBs. I ran through about 50 of them to check for function and didn't have any problems.

Then I shot the match. About 100 rounds into a 350 round match, the rounds started to not want to chamber by themselves, even though the chambers were brushed out with an Allison speed brush between stages. By the end of the match, it was just plain ugly. I actually had to dump a full cylinder of ammo once because I couldn't get the rounds to chamber. When I got home and cleaned the gun, it took about an hour for the cylinder and required a fresh .40 caliber Brownell's Super Tuff chamber brush chucked into a battery-powered drill to get the residue out of the chambers.

With 20/20 hindsight, I should've tested more rounds than I did to ensure that gun and load would make it through the match without such problems. The last time I had shot that much through a revolver in one day was in a Ray Chapman class, where I put 750 rounds of my old 4.1 grains of TG under 158 grain Zero swaged RNLs through my M67 - I think I brushed out the cylinder three or four times the entire day, and had NO problems.

This is a lengthy preface to my original question - how many rounds is enough to ensure that a load will function through a long match?

A follow-on question to that is, does this mean that polymer coated bullets are a no-go in a .38 revolver? John ("Which John?") B. was using a different brand in his 625 with no problems, so it may have been a brand thing, or possibly a incompatible powder.

TIA!

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Hi John Bagakis here, Dan Carden and I shot the Gator Classic.

I was using Bear Creek 230gr Moly Bullets in my 625 at the Gator Classic.

I also use them in my 627, The 158 RN Bear Creek bullet.

For the .38 I have used 3.6gr of Bullseye with good luck, For me this has been a great load about 130PF.

You can reach Steve Miller at Bear Creek bullets at (209)847-4322

His prices and shipping costs are very good. I have used his bullets for the last seven years and love them. I have not had any leading problems at all.

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Chuck, I've had such good luck with plated bullets (mostly Rainiers) through my wheelguns, I don't think I'll ever switch back to lead (moly-coated or not), at least for matches.

With my IPSC loads (using Clays powder), I can literally shoot several big matches (several hundred rounds apiece) and never once brush the chambers, under the star, or anything else--and each and every moonclip drops right in. Everything stays so much cleaner with plated bullets I now just leave my Allison speed brush at home. (Sorry Mark!) :)

I think if I were shooting a .38 for IPSC, I'd load 158-gr. plated RN at about 135 p.f. with whatever powder left the gun cleanest, and that would be it.

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This is a lengthy preface to my original question - how many rounds is enough to ensure that a load will function through a long match?

I have been working on a thesis for an original scientific theory. It's based on the inverse probabilities that a gun will run well during a match for the same number of rounds tested in practice.

As an addendum to Murphy's Law it states simply: Failures will not occur when it does not matter.

I have literally burned 200+ rounds, testing some new (fill in the blank), without difficulty. Only to see the exact same combination puke within 30 rounds during a match.

This explains the phenomenon that virtually no experienced shooter will *ever* go to a major match with a gun/load/equipment combination that first hasn't had the opportunity to crash and burn at an actual sanctioned match. ;)

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Revchuck, I have been using Moly for a while and had no problem with them not going in the chamber. What I use to clean the chamber between stages,(most of the time not needed but I do it anyway) is a 375 stainless rifle bore brush. One swipe and it is done. I would check after firing four reloads in practice to see if anything comes out. Hopefully this will help.

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Thanks for the answers!

Mike - I keep looking at the Clays' data and wondering how far over the published max load (3.1 grains) I'd have to go to make PF with the 158 grain Berry's RNs I have. The only 6" gun I have is the M14, a .38 Special. I could go to a 4" .357, but that kinda defeats the purpose. :(

Failures will not occur when it does not matter.
I'm seriously considering replacing my current sig line with this. :rolleyes:
What I use to clean the chamber between stages,(most of the time not needed but I do it anyway) is a 375 stainless rifle bore brush.
Another thing I was seriously considering was replacing the nylon brushes on the Allison speed brush with stainless steel chamber brushes. The moly bullets don't represent enough of a benefit to go that far - I'd go back to plain lead first, probably the smoky but accurate and non-leading Zero swaged RNLs.

Christmas break will see me at the 550 with different powders and the Berry's.

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revchuck, I tried both Precision and Master Blaster Moly/Poly coated bullets in my 625. I used to use the Precision bullets in my .45 1911, with very good results. But, the Master Blaster bullets left my 1911 looking like a shotgun barrel, with powders from clays to HS6 to the recommended Zip or Competition.

After just 30 rounds the leading in the Revolver was so bad I quit using the Master Blasters. The Precisions were better, but as you said they now have a FN on their RN. I've been using Berry's or Ranier, whichever is found the cheapest, and they just aren't that much more expensive than lead.

I use nothing but lead in my M29 with .44 Russians and have no trouble even with a 200+ round match. Though I did try some .44 Specials with a moly bullet when I first bought it and they were also horrible, can't remember the brand though.

Some of the Poly coats seems to shed easier, Precision's Moly coat does hold up pretty good and usually doesn't leave much more than a FMJ w/exposed base.

Moral be "VERY" careful of Poly/Moly bullets in a Revolver. Test them thorughly in different temps. Both with a few rounds and many sessions and many rounds in 1 session. Then take them to some matches and try'em. 1000 rounds isn't too many to test with. If you're pressed for time, use straight lead or plate/jacketed.

Competition is a hard mistress and a tough teacher. But the lessons usually stick.

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I would say that you should fire several local matches with your load to ensure that at a larger match, you will be confident that it will work for you. Dan and John know how much ammo I burn between cleanings. I went to the IRC with a very dirty cylinder, but the gun ran flawlessly for months. I'm starting to have a few misfires, but I think I can attribute it to an extended firing pin that may be being beat up by dry firing. I have confidence that once I change it out, I'll have solved my problem there. Several local matches in round count would probably be like 1000 rounds. It sounds like a lot, but if you practice a hundred rounds a week and then shoot a few matches, you can shoot this much in a short amount of time. If I'm taking ammo to a large match, I'm probably going to have used it for a while or had expeience using it before.

I'll add in my $.02 to say that I use the 140gr RN produced by Bear Creek in 40 cal. It's hasa bit more zip to it, but I shoot it minor and can recover with it better, and make better hits, than I can with a major load using anything else. I've started plaing with heavier bullets, but they don't seem to be as accurate in my gun at this point. It might be that I'm just not used to them yet.

Vince

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Competition is a hard mistress and a tough teacher. But the lessons usually stick.

Now there's a great signature line! (Although I'm not sure what Dave means by "hard mistress"....)

Maybe Dave's stuck with something he doesn't want to talk about.... :blink:

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The problem is more powder related than bullet most likely but different brands of bullets will vary in performance. The build up mostly comes from the unburnt powder resudue.

We have a lot of shooters running Billy Bullets (moly) at Rio and elsewhere in autos and revolvers with no problems. Nils uses them and we all know what his performance was like.

My 686 has never shot anything but them since day one. (purchased it used from Rudy himself) I have shot it for 4 ICORE matches now and only run a brush in the cylinders the night before the match and I have tight cylinders. (135 gr RN w/ Vit N330)

I used to shoot lead in my 44 mag with a ton of leading. changed to Billy Bullets and a different powder as well and no longer had any leading at all, the gun looked better after 150 rounds than lead after 6.

Hope you get it worked out...

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Master Blaster bullets left long stringers of poly coating in the barrel/cylinder, I tried 8 different powders and none made much of a difference.

"...Hard Mistress..."

I knew that line would get some comment. But, once she has you under her spell, she's demanding, unforgiving and downright cruel at times. Then just when you think you've had enough and are ready to kick 'er out the door, she shows you a "GREAT" time. Then you're hooked all over again.

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RevChuck,

Glad you enjoyed the Gator.........just too bad you had to put up with the Left Coasties. :lol::lol::lol:

Your residue trouble is most likely from the powder you use. It could be unburnt, too hot causing the bullet to "melt" on the end and leaving residue ect. Just keep testing.......Most use Hodgeden "Clays" (Me too) but Jerry still uses "Bullseye" when he reloads his own so even though it is just a little dirtier than Clays it is worth looking into.

D. Carden tells me he used Vitivouri 310 in his match loads.......If it is anything like 320 it is extremely clean, but also pretty darn costly too.

Now how much do I shoot before trusting a new load?

I shoot at least 3 local club matches with them and use them to practice with between the last club match and the Major match. And........I try not to clean the gun until the Early week of the major match (Tuesday evening usually) just to see how dirty the new load gets, and to see if it causes gun troubles.

In other words........at least 500 in club matches, plus the practice rounds.

In my opinion, you do not want to go to any other than maybe a club match and ever have to wonder about your equipment and ammo............ever!

Hopalong

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Testing loads in a test and testing them in a Match is two differant tests.

You must do both to ensure they work, and do it before a major match.

I had the same problem only to learn the gun I had built had problems was still tight after 5,000 rounds, and ended up using a carry gun to finish a major match.

That was a big disappointment.

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Dr. Dremel you are one sick, twisted puppy.

No self respecting Kansas Farmboy/Cowboy would be caught dead with a pet "Sheep"! Ya gotta be tough on the Prairie. Wily Coyote really likes them sheep though.

Wasn't it Jim Bowie who called his knife, "The Iron Mistress"?

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where I put 750 rounds of my old 4.1 grains of TG under 158 grain Zero swaged RNLs through my M67 - I think I brushed out the cylinder three or four times the entire day, and had NO problems.

TIA!

Just a thought about TG powder... I have been helping one of hte local ICORE shooters here with some loading issues. When time for a reload in a stage the bullets weren't dropping into the charge hole well at all. The gun's chargeholes had been re-re-chamfered, polished, and they would be blindingly clean before the stage. 1 or 2 reloads into the stage and the bullets wouldn't go without force. The gun was running 3.8 gr TG under a 158 rn bearcreek moly bullet. We ended up finding unburnt powder in the charge holes that were being left there during a reload. The thought was that there was powder unburnt left in the case that was dislodged during the reload, and it wasn't letting the loaded bullets in the moonclip slide past into place. A change in powder to either Bullseye or TrailBoss fixed the problem immediately in this situation. Trailboss seemed to be the cleaner of the two though.

Dave

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where I put 750 rounds of my old 4.1 grains of TG under 158 grain Zero swaged RNLs through my M67 - I think I brushed out the cylinder three or four times the entire day, and had NO problems.

TIA!

Just a thought about TG powder... I have been helping one of hte local ICORE shooters here with some loading issues. When time for a reload in a stage the bullets weren't dropping into the charge hole well at all. The gun's chargeholes had been re-re-chamfered, polished, and they would be blindingly clean before the stage. 1 or 2 reloads into the stage and the bullets wouldn't go without force. The gun was running 3.8 gr TG under a 158 rn bearcreek moly bullet. We ended up finding unburnt powder in the charge holes that were being left there during a reload. The thought was that there was powder unburnt left in the case that was dislodged during the reload, and it wasn't letting the loaded bullets in the moonclip slide past into place. A change in powder to either Bullseye or TrailBoss fixed the problem immediately in this situation. Trailboss seemed to be the cleaner of the two though.

Dave

Dave - A difference here is that I was using a speedloader-fed gun, and I try to get my muzzle as vertical as possible when I eject my empties. (I got a warning at the Gator Classic about almost breaking the vertical 180.) Moonclip shooters tend to keep the muzzle almost horizontal to speed up reloads, which doesn't seem to do as well in terms of getting rid of unburnt powder. Also, I use magnum primers, which I think leave less unburnt powder in the first place, and the heavier loads also tend to burn more cleanly.

I called IMR a while ago when I noticed that the Trailboss data for .38 Special and .357 Magnum used the same powder charge and got about the same pressure. They said that Trailboss gets really weird really fast when you go above those pressures.

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But, once she has you under her spell, she's demanding, unforgiving and downright cruel at times. Then just when you think you've had enough and are ready to kick 'er out the door, she shows you a "GREAT" time. Then you're hooked all over again.

Very wise words........

Kansas farm boy's "Hard Mistress"!

That ain't right....Funny as hell, but it ain't right!

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Until the gun stops working. If that is 3 - 4 times the anticipated round count for a match, I'd be OK with it. Any less and I'd be leary.

My steel gun is very picky. I like to shoot a very light load, <110pf, in it. It will run about 1000 rounds before it has issues related to being dirty. I can shoot a hotter load to go > 2000 rounds but I like the lighter one better :) HTH

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As much as it hurts me to say this, Carmoney's right :P about the Berry's plated bullets. I've used them for many years with no problems. I've shot the American Handgunner World Shootoff for a number of years using the 158RN and about 3.5gr of Titegroup in a 686 or 627. Including the Winchester World Challenge, which is sort of a warm up match for the Handgunner, I'll go through 2000-3000rds in about 5 days and I've never had to even brush the cylinder. I also use the 185HBRN and WST in my 625 for IPSC with similar results.

But I still keep my Allison Speed Brush in my shooting bag ;)

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