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Warden Callaway

Effects of cold and heat on ammo performance?

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At our last match on October 30th, the temperature started out in the low 40s and got up to 50 by end of match. I noticed the report and dwell time of the 357 loads (TiteGroup powder) in Sawmill Mary's Marlin were eradic. I wouldn't think just that much cooler would have made a difference.

 

Tomorrow we have a New Years shoot. The temperatures should average in the 40s. My loads are with BlackMZ in rifle and revolvers. I loaded the shotgun with real black powder. It's expected to be down to freezing by morning. I'm thinking I should haul the ammo in the cab to keep it warm at least until we get there. This range is convenient in that parking is right behind the stage. I could keep ammo in cab and bring out ammo just before going to loading table.

 

I hear of folks packing ammo in coolers in hot weather but not consideration for cold weather.

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Temperature sensitivity is most often seen at reduced powder levels of smokeless powder. At reduced loads, I found TightGroup to be less temperature sensitive that many others. 35 - 40f seemed to be the break point. When temps dropped below about 40 degrees, I got erratic performance from TightGroup.

 

Full cases of BP and Subs doesn't seem to be affected. Also, I have not noticed a temperature problem in my All Brass 12Ga. The shotgun loads are lite, but the wad keeps the powder confined around the flash hole.

 

As I have gotten older however, I find myself less inclined to shoot when the weather drops under 40 - 45f. I are a wimp.

 

Coffinmaker

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Carry your next stage ammunition in a shirt pocket under your coat.

This warmth will be enough to help the temperature sensitive powders.

BP and BP substitutes do not seem to be bothered that much by temperature.

 

I find that I am more bothered than the BP stuff.

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I too was surprised to see that temperatures about 40 degrees and below lead to erratic reports on many lighter loads. I had thought that the temperature would have had to be lower before impacting the loads. Live and learn.

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When I use to shoot in the cold/cooler weather conditions, I noticed my CLAY loads in .38 special ammo was sensitive UNTIL I started using MAGNUM primers.

 

The MAG primers give more flash time which apparently help get the CLAYS powder a better chance to fully ignite.

 

That is my limited experience with weather sensitive ammo.

 

When I chronograph my ammo, I normally do it in summer months and also make note of the temperature range during my test.

 

 

..........Widder

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I must be doin' something wrong... From snowin' to 110ºF I haven't noticed any difference in my loads!

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When I use to shoot in the cold/cooler weather conditions, I noticed my CLAY loads in .38 special ammo was sensitive UNTIL I started using MAGNUM primers.

 

The MAG primers give more flash time which apparently help get the CLAYS powder a better chance to fully ignite.

 

That is my limited experience with weather sensitive ammo.

 

When I chronograph my ammo, I normally do it in summer months and also make note of the temperature range during my test.

 

 

..........Widder

Like Widder I haven't noticed any problems in my .38 Clays loads since I bumped up my powder charge and went to magnum primer.

 

Widder I missed you today, we managed to shoot 1 stage in a light snowfall, I know you hate you missed it :D

 

Randy

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You'll mainly notice it on pistol rounds.....expecially the first shot. It's holstered with barrel down, all of the powder is sitting on the back of the bullet, furthest away from the primer.

 

Switched to American Select, cured the poof first round.

 

Don't get very cold in Florida most of the time but when it does....it gets humid/cold.

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Without giving specific load data, the 357 loads in question had a usual load of TiteGroup used for a couple of years and used by others. The primer is Winchester "standard and magnum". I did change the bullet from 115g TC to 105 TC. Gun is Marlin 1894 Cowboy Limited with 24" barrel.

 

I use the same components and powder charge in Mary's 38 Short Colt loads. They seemed to work fine but the case volume is better suited for the light load.

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Noticed the same effect with both Clays and Trail Boss at minimum listed loads in pistols.

 

Bumped the charge weight up a little and rarely notice the issue anymore.

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Howdy; Hp 38 is temperature sensitive as is tightgroup. I just tip the can a little more for more powder in the winter.

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Some powders are noted to be pretty "cold weak." Clays is among them.

 

Titegroup is advertised as being temperature insensitive. Like you, WC, I have not found that to be true at our low pressure cowboy loads and freezing weather.

 

Mag primers help.

 

One of the best uses of a small cooler - place your ammo and a couple of hand warmer packets in them. Start the hand warmers 30 minutes before match,. By the time you are ready to shoot, ammo will work MUCH better.

 

A few powders become weaker at hot temperatures. I don't recall which ones do that. None of our common pistol/shotgun powders, fortunately.

 

Testing of your loads should always be done by taking a few rounds "off the ice" from an ice chest, if you do load development in nice weather.

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708

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I shoot very light shotgun loads with clays and at about 20 degrees it makes a large flame out the muzzle and sounds strange. I up the powder in the very cold and problem almost goes away. Bullett 19707

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Must be our "dry" cold, here in colorado. Have not shot this year due to health issues, but last year shot matches and some practice in Temps between 10-20f. I use "in the book" loads at the bottom end (750 in pistols,125 gr. and 850 in rifle, 147gr.) but sub a Fed SPM primer, the same I have been using the last 7 years and they were within 20-25 fps of their measured summer velocity. Those I have shared ammo or recipes with had similar experiences. If Titegroup is temp sensitive I have not seen it. Nor has it exhibited any position sensitivity in my guns.

 

Regards

 

Gateway Kid

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I don't shoot when it's 20 anymore because my hands don't like it. I've been using Titegroup for 9 years with all different loads and Federal magnum or magnum match primers. I couldn't tell any difference from 20- 90 and up. That's shooting 38's or 44-40's.

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We shoot in the eighties and, in winter, down to well below freezing. My wart hog loads of Holy Black do not seem to be affected. :wub:

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As Widder found--- I've had some issues with Clays and Clay-Dot in the cold, but didn't notice any issue with TiteGroup in my .45's, Will find out this season with Ellie's .38's. I like the hand warmer trick in a small cooler. Nice tip GJ

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Nickel cases will show lower velocities than brass cases in cold temps. Nickel does not expand at the same rate and with lower pressure loads there is a temperature difference. Shoot in the snow and one can see all the flakes of unburned powder. Downloading is the problem and not the powder. There are reasons for recommended loads that are published by powder manufacturers.

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From what I found it ONLY matters if you are playing around at the bottom of the charge levels. I use to shoot light loads 8 years ago and noticed a difference then. I took 50 rounds of Clays 38 loads and put them in the freezer over night......say zero deg.

 

When I woke up I put them in a cooler with ice and went straight to the range and shot them though the Chrono vs ammo at ambient temp. I don't remember the temp that day but it was average say 75 deg or so. There wasn't much of a difference in velocity maybe 50 FPS but if your at the low end that could make a difference.

 

IMHO now I just shoot mid range loads (800+ in the pistols and 1000+ in the rifle) and you don't have to worry about it......winter spring summer or fall.

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:FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm:

 

I find that HP38 and WW231 are slightly wimpy at temps in the 20's or lower.

So if I plan on shooting much, I increase the powder charge by 0.3 gr.

And if I happen to not use those loads up in the cold, they are still not too hot for more moderate temps.

 

Mustang

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Downloading is the problem and not the powder.

 

Older technology powders are often ALSO a problem. Some of the newer technology with modern deterrents and coatings are much less temperature sensitive, even with light loads.

 

But, that said, powder manufacturers do not have a big market for real light loading capability. Smokeless powders are designed to run WELL close to their max pressure levels, not the minimums you find in manuals, and certainly not the "below mins" you find in many cowboy's gun belts!

 

It is true that very light loading makes consistent loads hard to build at any temperature. And with some powders, it becomes REAL hard at the cold temperature range!

 

So, since the OP has asked what the temperature effects are going to be and how to prevent weak loads in cold weather, this thread has been covering all the ways to do that. Bumping the powder level up is certainly a VERY effective way to get to happy ground. But, there are other tricks too.

 

Good luck, GJ

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When my daughter was in 6th grade she did a science project testing .38 special, 125 gr that were charged with 231. The test rifle was a Marlin and the low was 0 F and the high was 70 F. There was no difference. All velocities were around 880 FPS. Froze our keesters off in the name of science. Just my 2 cents worth...

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Pards;

 

First of the more empty space in the case the more effected it is by low temps...

Loads that fail to reach the designed pressure range of the powder in question the more it is effected.

 

Widder ; Changing to a Mag. primer if you leave the rest of the load the same can act like adding 2

tenths of a grain of powder ...

 

Full Case loads of Real Blackpowder shoot about the same no matter the Temp Range ...

 

Jabez Cowboy

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I live in southern Ontario which is across from Michigan and many years ago started out using Win231. In the cold weather my pistols (38's) would lock up as the primers were backing out when fired. I did some research to discover this was caused by the very cold weather. Checking on the Wire at that time I found out many of the shooters in the cold weather recommended using Titegroup as it was NOT cold sensitive. This included Positive accounts from Deuce Stevens and several other top shooters from Michigan. I switched to Titegroup and haven't had a problem since. I can see where the amount of powder used will make a difference as others have stated. YMMV !

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I do not have any problems with Red Dot at the low range of powder loading. I shoot a 38 special in my revolvers with a 105 grain bullet and Federal Primers. The rifle is a 357 Magnum with a 125 bullet, same primer. Both have good crimps. Primers are all seated tightly. I check each match round, and any that don't have the primer seated below the level of the case either get reworked or go in the practice bin.

 

We did have a couple of shooters have primer non ignition on the first cold Saturday that they didn't have previously. That may have been because the grease and oils thicken in the cold and slow the hammer down. They may need an extra tweek of the hammer spring.

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From what I found it ONLY matters if you are playing around at the bottom of the charge levels.

 

IMHO now I just shoot mid range loads (800+ in the pistols and 1000+ in the rifle) and you don't have to worry about it......winter spring summer or fall.

Yep, I started with Titegroup, and then to Clays when I took up shotshell loading also. IMHO Titegroup has a loud sharp report and more recoil for the same fps. Did a little testing and found light loads of Clays could be both temerature and position sensitive, just needed to bump 'em up to the mid range and they ran fine. Nothing effects my 2f and 3f ;) I've since gone to Red Dot for all my smokeless stuff. Good Luck :)

 

Jefro :ph34r: Relax-Enjoy

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If I am cold my ammo performs very poorly. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Larsen, I found out years ago that I shoot much better when sweating than I do when shivering.

 

Randy

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Temperature sensitivity is most often seen at reduced powder levels of smokeless powder. At reduced loads, I found TightGroup to be less temperature sensitive that many others. 35 - 40f seemed to be the break point. When temps dropped below about 40 degrees, I got erratic performance from TightGroup.

 

Full cases of BP and Subs doesn't seem to be affected. Also, I have not noticed a temperature problem in my All Brass 12Ga. The shotgun loads are lite, but the wad keeps the powder confined around the flash hole.

 

As I have gotten older however, I find myself less inclined to shoot when the weather drops under 40 - 45f. I are a wimp.

 

Coffinmaker

Tite-Group??? YOU??? Mr. Black powder???? What's this world coming to??? :P

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Rye,

I know it's hard. It's hard for me too. There was a time, before I found the dark side, I was still a Heathen. Shooting that Fad Heathen "propellant." Now that I have given myself over to THE DARK SIDE, those Heathen ways are a thing of the past. Distant past.

Edited by Colorado Coffinmaker
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Currently -19 degrees eight miles west of Cheyenne, Wyoming. And, I'm not testing ammo.

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