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"Big Boston"

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  1. Hard to beat this bullet shape for smooth feeding in a "66 or "73. OAL of 1.5" For hip guns it's hard to beat 125's in 38 Long Colt brass. Trail Boss (2.5 gr) for 700 fps, decent Es/Sd. In a pinch I've used wadcutters in 38 Spl brass as well, they don't look too Cowboy, but they are easy to load and shoot well. Make sure to have some lead showing, flush with mouth not allowed. I bought a 6 cavity LEE, 358-148-WC, makes a pile of bullets in no time at all, almost boring. I use the same 2.5 gr as for my LC ammo, for 640 fps. BB
  2. IMHO: Data for coated bullets will be a bit different from regular cast bullet data. Closer to cast data than to jacketed data, but not the same. Probably close enough that you could use the starting load and check velocities with a chronograph. Although a Lyman manual is worth while having, download the Oregon trails manual, a bit dated, but pretty decent data, at least for the cartridges I've load for. They use Magma molds, the most common mold for commercially cast bullets, and that is a good thing. Oh, and it's free. https://oregontrailbullets.com/xcart/images/filemanager/uploads/otbc-load-manual.pdf BB PS: https://www.egglestonmunitions.com/load-data.html
  3. Your question is fairly general, not specific to any particular load. Therefore, so will my answer be of a general nature. As a general rule, the longer a handgun barrel, the more velocity for a particular load. IOW, for a given load, going from a 4" barrel to an 8" barrel would give you an increase in velocity. How much is dependent on the load, (the weight of the bullet, type and amount of powder). It has to do with expansion ratio, and burning rate of the powder used. a slower burning pistol powder, like 2400 would give a greater increase in velocity with a longer barrel than say a faster burning powder like Bullseye. In wheel guns, the cylinder gap has a big influence on velocity. Other factors are the throat and barrel dimensions. If your ammo was tested in a 6" barrel, and you used the same ammo in a snubby with a 2" barrel, you can expect about a 100 fps velocity drop. And if you took that same ammo and shot it in a 20" rifle, you can expect about a 250 fps increase in velocity. As far as caliber, as a general rule, smaller calibers use less powder and lighter bullets, so components are cheaper. Loaded ammo prices follow the market, 9mm Luger is todays bargain ammo, it hardly pays to reload for 9mm. CAS has velocity and power factor rules, so which is faster, small or large caliber is a somewhat moot question. However, generally speaking, for the same pressure and bullet weight, a larger caliber will shoot that weight of bullet faster. It also has the ability to shoot heavier bullets at the same speed a smaller caliber will shoot a lighter bullet. The challenge in Cowboy shooting is to have reliable ammunition at low(ish) velocities at or near the minimum Power Factor. If you want to learn more, the SASS rule book and a loading manual will satisfy your curiosity.
  4. When you loaded your Cheddite hulls with Cheddite primers, how many pierced primers did you get? Did you try Federals or CCI primers? I'd also like to know what your firing pin protrusion was. Cheddite primers are about 0.001" larger in dia than a Winchester 209, and on my hulls they fit snug enough, IMO. I was loading a different recipe, it called for a Win 209, but unfortunately that load had other issues. My load that calls for Cheddites is better in that regard. I don't have any loyalty to Cheddite, or their primers, I'll ditch them in a heartbeat, when I get the go ahead from BPI. BB
  5. Thanks, after some more measuring, I too believe they are too thin. About 0.005" thinner than a W209. That's significant. However when I measure Fed 209's, the primer cup is about the same thickness (or thinness) as a Cheddite. Winchester primers are thicker. So it would seem that although thin, a Cheddite primer should not normally pierce. However, a strike by a firing pin at an angle will put the primer cup under more strain. Theoretically, IMHO, if the firing pin is not inline and completely parallel to the bore center line, at least the hemisphere on the tip should be. I had a Zoli 20 ga that pierced primers like a fiend, bottom barrel, and IIRC, the only primer the wouldn't was a Win 209. I also flattened the tip on the lower pin. I gleaned the following information from the "Great Google". Shotgun firing pins are in the neighbourhood of 0.125" (1/8 inch) in diameter. The more common shape of the tip is a true hemisphere. Therefore the tip extends by a distance equal to the radius of the body of the pin, past the full diameter, or 0.0625" (1/16 of an inch). That is also the maximum that they should extend past the face of the breech. The minimum seems to be 0.050". On my 16 ga '97, it extends a bit more than that, around 0.070". I don't like to mess with primer substitution in shotgun shells, so before I swap I'll contact the load data source. BB
  6. My recent project was loading some 16 gauge 2 9/16" ammo for my turn of the century 1897 Winchester shotgun. The hull I was working with was a pre-primed Cheddite, and as such came primed with Cheddite primers. My load data did call for Cheddite primers so all was golden. However, visual inspection of my first test firings showed up some pierced primers. Cheddite primers are a bit thinner in the cup than some other 209 primers, but changing to a different primer would be the same as turning up the radio when the engine in your car starts making noise. To every issue there has to be a root cause, that's just the way life is, My first order of business was to examine the firing pin. The super heated, high velocity of the escaping gases can very quickly erode the tip of a firing pin, gas cutting IOW. Once damaged, the frequency of primer piercing will increase, making the situation worse, until the firing pin will need replacing. First a few pictures: The purpose of the pictures is so I can better describe the entire situation, the what happens. I knocked apart a few fired 209 primers from my spent primer tray, it's entirely possible that none the primers in the picture weren't fired in my '97. They are for the purpose of illustration. It's been my experience that most shotguns have a pretty stout hammer/striker spring. As you can see, the firing pin drives fairly deeply into the primer cup. In fact, it drives the primer cup into the anvil of the primer with enough force that the anvil dents the cup. The anvil, being a bunch pointier than the firing pin actually pierces the cup. Even if the cup can withstand this blow, if the firing pin is long enough and the hammer spring strong enough, the anvil will eventually dint the firing pin. Once dented, the firing pin will eventually start piercing primers, or allow the anvil to pierce the primer, because the firing pin surface will not be smooth anymore. the cup will not be able to stretch evenly over curvature of the primer, it will fracture or tear. My first order of business was to check the tension on the hammer in my '97. In a Winchester '97, the hammer spring tension is adjustable. Not an easy adjustment, as the action needs to be disassembled. The hammer adjustment screw was tightened down snug, so I loosened it. This issue dealt with, it was time to examine the firing pin, more disassembly. The firing pin wasn't very smooth anymore, and it was a bit too pointed IMHO. So, I tuned up the tip of the firing pin as well. 100 years and use will tend to damage a firing pin, instead of being nice and round, they become pointier, and start to resemble the tip of a center punch. I did a bit of searching, and discovered the desired shape of the tip of a firing pin isn't exactly standardized or talked about much on forums. The firing pin that you see on the top of the picture is a picture picked off the interweb, a used firing pin. The tip is no longer smooth and it is starting to get a bit pointed. For illustration, or dramatic effect, the diagram below the firing pin is of a chisel, whose 60° pint is meant to drive through metal, not the shape you'd want for a firing pin. I'm no gunsmith, I've owned a few shotguns, and I have "tuned" up the tip on more than one shotguns firing pin. The quickest fix is to file the firing pin flat on the tip. The lowest diagram illustrates this. This does 2 things, it shortens the firing a bit, but minimally, and it creates a shape that has less of a tendency to drive into the cup. Much like the meplat on a SWC pistol bullet limits penetration in ballistic gel. I first saw this firing pin shape on an expensive Italian shotgun years ago, IIRC. This shape tends to minimize thinning the primer cup area that strikes the anvil. As the cup and anvil contact, there is less force pulling metal away from the contact point. anyways, that's how I see it. Sometimes the amount of damage dictates the best shape. The pointiest I'd go to would be a dome, like the right edge of the red dot below the chisel. Again, IMO, a better shape would be the curve of the white line. Some 209 primers have thicker or "stronger" cups and resist piercing better than others, but all primers have the basic same design for the anvil. I don't know why they have to be so pointy and sharp. Back before I was a pup, some shotgun primers were assembled with a large pistol primers, and the anvil in a pistol primer is rather dull when compared to a shotgun primer. In addition most shotgun firing pins are long(ish), and I suppose this is to compensate for the less than precise shotgun ammo out these. BB
  7. Most shotguns that have been shortened, do not have any choke, they are true cylinder bore. (restating the obvious) In 12 ga. for the most part, that is what works. I have a '97, one that has a shortened full choke barrel. After shooting a couple of meets I felt compelled to check the chamber on my 1900's shotgun. Not 2 3/4". I had the forcing cone lengthened to accommodate 2 3/4" shells. For S&G I decided to retest the pattern. At cowboy distance it was large, about 12" and real even. I was surprised at how much the pattern had improved. Who'd a thunk patterning was even necessary. With 1 1/8oz of #7 1/2 or #8 shot, it has plenty of power to move the clapper on our one funky targets. Here's the thing, my spare is a clone, with screw in chokes, and after a bit of testing I settled on a skeet choke. That allows me to go down to 7/8 of shot. The pattern is a bit smaller, but hits are just as solid. Patterning and tuning do have benefits, although in reality, it don't take much of a shotgun to get-r-done. For my first time shooting cowboy I used a gifted to me '97 with a 30" full choked barrel, it worked OK as well. A longer barrel isn't that much of a disadvantage, but you'd better be on the target with that full choke. A 3" pattern at 10 yards is small, not much room for error. At our meets, a buckaroo with a .410, probably choked M/F smacks the targets just fine. Yet one shooter with a 20 has anemic hits IMHO. if you have lots of pellets, you can have a bigger pattern, but without adequate pellets a big pattern gets a bit ineffective. https://www.hunter-ed.com/montana/studyGuide/Shotgun-Choke-and-Shot-Pattern/201027_700048225/
  8. Unfortunately, it's been my experience that reliably running a light bullet slow is not entirely an easy task. I test over a chrony, look for decent Es/Sd and with powder forward/powder rearward consistency. At 700 fps it takes so little powder, most chrono data is at best described as erratic. The trick is to minimize the combustion chamber. Loading a WC bullet flush with the case minimizes the internal volume, so does loading in a smaller case. When I went to the 38 LC case, I was able to run a 125 gr bullet and get good numbers and good shooting ammo. My ammo is around 700 fps and the numbers are decent, not real good, but good enough. Velocity Av 706/707.8 Es 28/37.7 Sd 10.9/17.2 Shots 5>/5<** ** > indicates powder forward, < indicates powder rearward. I'd like to see more "Cowboy" data in all the calibers, with all weights of bullets.
  9. It's an alias, you're good to go in my books. Not like you're changing your real name. BB
  10. I have a '66 from Cimarron, with a 16" barrel. I trimmed the spring and with a 1.5" OAL, it will fit 10. Like any of the '66 and '73's, once the OAL gets too short, it won't lift/feed reliably. The basic design supports a 1.6" shell max, but in reality it likes them a bit shorter. Any less than 1.45" and it starts to get iffy. One downside to loading 10 in a short magazine, in a '66, is the ammo puts a bit of extra force on the ladle tab, and it will break more often. Unfortunately the '66 is a heavy gun, not good for smaller stature'd folk, the '66/'73 design is long(ish) as well, and the butt is dropped a bit too much, for me. When I bought my '73 I made sure it had the crescent butt plate. The gun stays put better on the shoulder. I'd like to see a redesigned '73, one with a bit shorter carrier, so it would feed 38 LC. It would have a shorter stroke as well, would be easier to get to minimum. BITD Winchester did have a shortened design for 22 RF IIRC. According to online info, on a Marlin, the lifter can be reworked to feed 38 LC. My 38 LC ammo is pretty short, less than 1 1/4". which would mean the barrel and mag tube could be shortened a few inches. I prefer a short(er) rifle for those stages that have us sitting on a horse prop and pulling the rifle from the scabbard. The '92 is a bit fussy on OAL. Too long and it jams, too short is just as bad. My '92 was a 44-40, and it works well with a 200 gr bullet at an OAL of 1.6". Most bullets for the 44-40 have a groove that allows you to crimp at that length, danged convenient is you ask me. One suggestion was to get a stainless '92. They are light, even with a 20' barrel. In the picture, a '20" '73 on the top, a 16" '66 on the bottom, and a Rossi '92 in the middle. Way more metal in a toggle link action. Here's a thought, why not go to a bigger caliber. My '92 is a 44, bigger hole, less barrel weight. ammo would weigh a bit more. Perhaps there would be a net gain. My son's '92 weighs 6 1/4 #, and balanced at the trigger, it has 1 # of weight at the muzzle. My '66, in 38 Spl is a wee bit under 8 #, with about the same weight at the muzzle. My '73, in 357/36 is 7 3/4 #, and is 1 1/2 # at the muzzle, balanced at the trigger. All weights no ammo. I'd say going to a larger caliber would lose about the same amount of muzzle weight as going to a 16" barrel. I ramble, my bad. BB
  11. My experience, in Manitoba, is that you run across more from the 1900 to 1910 era than the newer ones. Because "the Cowboys" shoot them, the prices are high, $500 and up for ones that are intact, $250 for parts guns. That reinforces the have a smith check it out. Most are real dirty inside, a complete disassemble and clean are in order. Make a list of the parts that look dodgy, lots of parts, easy to get a long list. Check the chamber length, most are shorter than 2 3/4". 12 ga are usually made for 2 5/8" roll crimped shells, so about 2 1/2" if you use today's standard for checking. My 16 was made for 2 9/16" roll crimp shells. Although many just shoot 2 3/4" in their short chambered shotguns, lengthening the forcing cone reduces felt recoil significantly. Lengthening the forcing cone is different than lengthening the chamber. I don't have a chamber reamer, lengthening is what I can do. Look at the hammer, as it wears it will fail to cock. Some will be welded. Look at the bottom of the bolt when you have it apart, some a worn to heck underneath. Check the little rails at the back of the action block, these wear. Check the rail area on the bolt, this wears as well. (one should keep these well oiled, see the comment about these are not an 870, they are not an 870.) The firing pin is usually worn to a point, smooth this area so that primers don't pierce. A flat firing pin sometimes works, do your research. I saw this shape on one of my non cowboy guns. Also, lower the tension on the hammer spring. There are lots of tutorials and videos. I prefer the takedown models, there is an adjuster to compensate for wear, just like on a model 12. My backup is a Chinese clone, with crew in chokes. I use skeet. It lets me go down to 7/8 and still have the knockdown of an open cyl barrel, YMMV. Remember, 2 piece chamber, some of the promo shells with their soft poop metal heads will stick in the chamber. Sometimes the spring on the magazine tube needs a bit of tuning, to keep the action locked when running fast. (running the gun, not you running). I still have tons to learn, their are like 500 different parts in these guns, most were hand fitted. If you swap parts it can get interesting. Biggest indicator of wear, will not cock. Also the most challenging to fix properly. I think you need more than 2. I take 2 to every meet and have one working spare at home, and a few for parts. I do kick myself for not buying up a bunch when they were $20 each before Cowboy days. They are a dangerous contraption, Winchester recalled about 2 years of production to address safety issues. Practice, learn your gun. They do not like to get short shifted, slam them into gear like you mean it. Don't forget to do the slam fire interlock adjustment. Sometimes this little screw is rusted in solid. The small carrier pin stop screw is sometimes in very neglected shape, beware. If it can't be removed, the action won't come apart. Have fun, all in all a very fun shotgun.
  12. I believe 444 Marlin brass is only a bit over 2.2", Magtech brass shotgun shells are 2.5". 444 Marlin brass is solid head, and IMHO should give slightly more reliable ignition with light loads. Magtech brass is balloon head, more capacity for full power loads with BP. I don't have samples to measure; I believe 444 Marlin brass has somewhat thicker walls than 410 Magtech brass. The proper size of wad may vary between the 2. And if loaded for a 410 shotgun, the dangers of inadvertent shooting a round so loaded in your 444 Marlin would not be dangerous. BB
  13. I think OLG's advice on an upgrade on the LEE Load-All should be heeded. I've owned and used several of these, and still have one in 16 and one in 12. They will load ammo, but using one gets old pretty quickly. I still own a Mec 600Jr for 12 ga,, and I've owned one in 20 and one or two more in 12 that I've sold. I'd rate them as a good press, slower than a progressive, but good all the same. A while back I upgraded to a Sizemaster for 20 ga and 410. The Mec Sizemaster is a bit more versatile than a 600Jr, and IMHO worth the extra $. I also owned a progressive, a Mec as well, a Grabber. It will crank them out once you have a load worked out. I don't think a progressive is for a beginner, unless you have a mentor helping you set it up. Mec's are good value for the money. BB
  14. I recently bought a new Winchester 1873 (Miroku), for shooting cowboy. I liked that it is chambered for 357 Magnum, and proofed for 357 Magnum, because if I stop shooting cowboy, I can shoot 357 loads in it. I think that a steady diet of full power will shorten it's life a bit, but perhaps not as much as I think. It's physics, pressure is one number, but force is pressure multiplied by area. Same toggles and steel as in a 45 LC or 44-40. Both of those have more area for the force to act against. I'm no engineer, but a quick calculation has a 357 Mag @ 35,000 psi putting just less than twice the force against the bolt as a 45 LC @ 14,000psi. You'd have to load a 357 Mag up to 19,000 psi to equal the force against the bolt of a 45LC. Or, if you were to load a 45 LC up to 26,000 psi, it would be the same as a 357 Mag. So, I suppose in theory, (if my theory and math are correct), if you were to run a '73 45 LC at max and a '73 357 Mag at max, the 357 Mag would be worn out with half the # of rounds. I can live with that. I'm sure if my math is in error, an engineering type will chime in. BB
  15. I don't think there is a simple answer. It gets a bit obscure, and you need to test. Primers differ; different chemical composition, different amount of compound, and varying thickness and strength of cup. A little bit more internal volume can make a primer have inconsistent ignition. Loading density does come into play, as does the ratio of the cases internal cross sectional area to height. Going from a 38 Special to a 357 Magnum case, just a wee bit over 1/8" longer can mean needing a primer change. A magnum primer may have a longer burn, (same compound, just more of it) or a hotter burn, (different compound). Every brand is different. For some magnum primers, yes, just the cup is thicker. The CCI 450 SRM primer has the thickest cup of all small rifle primers, IIRC. I don't think cowboy loads need a very tough primer cup, but some combos need a more powerful one. Here's a little fact; the pressure contained in the primer pocket is oft times greater than the pressure inside the case itself. My background in reloading was mostly rifle, and I looked at primers to estimate relative pressure (and measure the expansion at the presume ring, PRE). Reading small pistol primers for pressure signs is witchcraft IMNSHO. To try and make sense of what I was seeing, I loaded pistol cases with just a primer, no powder, no bullet, and fired them. I was seeing pressure signs similar to cases that were loaded with powder and bullets. I concluded that pressure from the primer explosion (priming compound is an explosive) was being sufficiently restricted by the flash hole that the pressure against the primer was greater than the pressure created after the powder ignited. The flash hole acts as a restriction in both directions, and it also act as a venturi, increasing the velocity of the primer flash. About at this point I was developing a headache, but I was not deterred. I wanted to prove my theory. I did more testing with firing only primers, but I increased the diameter of the flash hole in incremental steps. And, when the flash hole gets large enough, the primer no longer backs out, and it doesn't flatten either. I was satisfied with my proof. I loaded up some ammunition with these cases, they shot just like regular ammo, just no pressure signs for low power loads. My next step involved crushing all the cases with modified flash holes. With no access to a ballistic laboratory, i really didn't have any business messing around with flash hole size. One observation: when I fired a case with only a primer, invariably the cylinder was locked after firing. The primer would be set back and rotating the cylinder was difficult. At a point where the flash hole was pretty big, no primer setback. My point, if I haven't lost you about a paragraph or 2 back, is that the primer explosion is pretty intense, and depending on how much powder, and the type of powder, and the position of the powder, ignition problems still may be present. I've mentioned this before, I test for this with a chronograph. I fire 5 shots with the powder against the primer for one string, and I fire the next string with the powder against the bullet. Ideally I want the average velocity of each string to be close to each other, and I'd like low Sd and Es for each string as well. If I don't get the results I want, I try a primer change, either brand, or switch to a magnum primer if I've been using a standard one. And sometimes, changing the primer will make a huge difference. In a previous post I said that Trail Boss was a fast burning powder. There are faster burning powders as pointed out by OLG. I've looked at a few burn rate charts, some show TB to be around the Red Dot area, others show it near 231. I split the burn rates of pistol powders into Fast, Medium , and Slow. The mediums are around or from Unique to HS-6, slow are powders like Blue Dot and 2400. Fast are from around BE up to about 231. If one were to split the all the powders in fast, medium and slow, fast would end at or near Blue Dot, medium would be from 2400 to IMR3031 and slow would be from Varget to Retumbo. And that would be meaningless rubbish. I should have been more specific, my bad. The burn rate of Trail Boss is close to that of Green Dot. Trail Boss is not like any other powder, IMO. When it burns it does so at relatively high(ish) pressures, for a very short duration. It is low energy, doesn't make much velocity for the pressure. It is really inefficient, not a powder you'd use if you were on a quest for maximum velocity. But for Cowboy ammo, perfect fit, low velocity with just enough pressure to seal the case in the chamber.
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