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Ruger Vaquero 44-40 backed-out Primers


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When I load the Vaquero, the cylinder will spin without any issues.  But, when I fire, the second round through five are dragging making it difficult to rotate the cylinder.  I can use my off hand to turn the cylinder into firing position, but it turns hard.

 

The primers are just barely backed out of their pocket in the offending revolver.  The primers in the second identical 44-40 are still in-place after shooting as-well-as the primers in the rifle.

 

I am shooting Goex FFFG in these.

 

I thought possibly the cylinder rod was coming slightly out, so I replaced the cylinder rod, latch pin nut, latch pin body and put in the extra strong latch pin spring, but that did not help.

 

What are your thoughts to correct this issue?  Especially since Ruger has not manufactured these for years.

 

Frontier Lone Rider

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I don't know what load you are using but it sounds like the charge is to light.

 

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First thing to look at is you cylinder throats and their relation to barrel bore, then the Forcing Cone.  Well, actually, the second and third things.  First thing is to check you Head Space, then Cylinder to Barrel gap, then End Shake

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I have not shot smokeless in these as I purchased them with the intent of getting back to an original caliber shooting black powder.  I have a complete other set that use for smokeless.

 

I am shooting 18 grains with a 200 gr bullet.

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1 minute ago, Ya Big Tree said:

I don't know what load you are using but it sounds like the charge is to light.

 

 

I considered that, but there are not any issues with the second vaquero or the rifle.  My buddy is shooting the same loads and he is not having this issue.

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3 minutes ago, Colorado Coffinmaker said:

First thing to look at is you cylinder throats and their relation to barrel bore, then the Forcing Cone.  Well, actually, the second and third things.  First thing is to check you Head Space, then Cylinder to Barrel gap, then End Shake

 

You are speaking above my pay grade.

 

If I may, I will pick your brain at Tusco this Saturday.  I will do all of the above, once I figure out how.

 

I will bring the revolver so you can just point out where I should start.

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There is also the possibility that the blast shield has a worn spot around the firing pin hole.  Just for giggles take the cylinder out and look to see if there is a recess around the firing pin hole.  I think that Rugers have a replaceable bushing in that area.

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42 minutes ago, Frontier Lone Rider said:

I have not shot smokeless in these as I purchased them with the intent of getting back to an original caliber shooting black powder.  I have a complete other set that use for smokeless.

 

I am shooting 18 grains with a 200 gr bullet.

Fill the case with real BP till you compress the powder just a bit when you seat the bullet.

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1 hour ago, Nickel City Dude said:

There is also the possibility that the blast shield has a worn spot around the firing pin hole.  Just for giggles take the cylinder out and look to see if there is a recess around the firing pin hole.  I think that Rugers have a replaceable bushing in that area.

This was my thought, or else the bushing has sunk into the frame somewhat.  18 gr of BP is not a warthog load, but I wouldn't think it light enough to back out primers.

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All loads back out primers, but all don't have enough pressure to re-seat them.

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Had the same problem with one of my Ubertis.  The one shot fine, but the second one would lock up due to high primers.  Three rifles and two other pistols all shot fine with the same ammo.  After upping the powder charge, adding a shim to the cylinder bushing to seat the cylinder a bit farther back, the problem still occurred.   Cholla came up with the solution; the firing pin bushing on the recoil plate was loose and the fired primer would back into the recess created when the round went off.  The bushing was staked by a 'smith so that it was flush with the recoil plate and the problem disappeared.  Abilene and Nickel City Dude had the same thought.

Edited by Tex Jones, SASS 2263
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13 minutes ago, Bailey Creek,5759 said:

18 grains need a filler to take up air space.

I use corn meal. No problem.

 

We use Cream of Wheat.

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4 hours ago, Smokin Gator SASS #29736 said:

If you want to shoot 18 gr bp loads in a 44, 44 Russians in a 44 mag vaquero would have been the way to go.

I have the 44 Mag, but I also have eleven 44-40s and that is what I want to shoot.  Of the eleven only one is giving me heartburn.

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Too light a load. 

 

Why just that one revolver?   Could be rougher cylinder walls in that gun, holding brass from sliding back to reseat the primers on firing.    Or really loose cylinder throats or barrel bore, reducing the pressure.   Or too much headspace or cylinder shake on the "bad" revolver.

 

If you expect all revolvers to behave the same at very light loads, you are being naive.

 

All it takes is a few thousandths higher primer on the fired cases to catch on the recoil shield, if your headspace is minimal and there's no cylinder shake.

 

good luck, GJ

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I've not stepped over into BP territory, but I do have a few 44-40 handguns and a rifle. As well I have some revolvers with headspace and endshake that exceed the norm. 

 

No matter what the load or powder, or even if there is powder in the case, the primer will back out the instant the priming compound is ignited. The primer is an explosive and the normal sized flash hole will hold the pressure in. The seated primer has to move, and it does. The pressure of the burning powder pushes the case back and reseats the primer. It should seat flat, and as already stated, if it does not, then the face of the frame is not flat in the area of the firing pin hole, or the pressure of the powder is insufficient to push the primer back in. 

 

I've chased some 44-40 issues and I'm wondering if the shoulder on your reloads is set back enough. Also, perhaps the necks of the ammo are too tight for the chambers, or IOW, the necks of the chambers are too tight for your ammunition. Revolvers require that their ammunition rattle in the chambers, especially before they are fired, and after firing they should be loose(ish). Cartridge brass springs back, unless the pressure is great enough that the steel in the chamber is stretched. That more of a high power rifle thing, so under normal circumstances, the brass, after firing, should push out easily. You didn't mention if the brass was sticking in the chambers or not. 

 

With smokeless powder in a 38/357 I experimented with the size of the flash hole, and was able to get to a point where the primer would not back out at all. The flash hole is a two way pressure restriction. After proving the concept, I tossed the cases I had experimented with and stayed out of that territory. Not enough letters behind my name to know if the practice was safe enough. I suspect it is, but premonition doesn't usually win horse races. 

 

Headspace is easy to determine. load a resized cartridge in the cylinder and rotate it into battery. Then check the clearance between the frame and the head of the cartridge with a feeler gauge. Tight would be about 0.005" and loose would be 0.020". I just measured my Ruger and it is 0.012", acceptable rattle for this cowboy. I do have a pair of open tops with about 0.020", and they never hang up. My firing pins need to be at max protrusion to keep things going bang, but they do the job. end shake is about 0.010" and cylinder to barrel clearance is about 0.015" with the cylinder pushed back when in half cock. Things can be pretty loose and still be reliable. 

 

I did write my 44-40 findings down, I've attached the write up. It's pdf.

 

Handloading the 44 WCF.pdf

 

BB

 

 

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1 hour ago, "Big Boston" said:

I've not stepped over into BP territory, but I do have a few 44-40 handguns and a rifle. As well I have some revolvers with headspace and endshake that exceed the norm. 

 

No matter what the load or powder, or even if there is powder in the case, the primer will back out the instant the priming compound is ignited. The primer is an explosive and the normal sized flash hole will hold the pressure in. The seated primer has to move, and it does. The pressure of the burning powder pushes the case back and reseats the primer. It should seat flat, and as already stated, if it does not, then the face of the frame is not flat in the area of the firing pin hole, or the pressure of the powder is insufficient to push the primer back in. 

 

I've chased some 44-40 issues and I'm wondering if the shoulder on your reloads is set back enough. Also, perhaps the necks of the ammo are too tight for the chambers, or IOW, the necks of the chambers are too tight for your ammunition. Revolvers require that their ammunition rattle in the chambers, especially before they are fired, and after firing they should be loose(ish). Cartridge brass springs back, unless the pressure is great enough that the steel in the chamber is stretched. That more of a high power rifle thing, so under normal circumstances, the brass, after firing, should push out easily. You didn't mention if the brass was sticking in the chambers or not. 

 

With smokeless powder in a 38/357 I experimented with the size of the flash hole, and was able to get to a point where the primer would not back out at all. The flash hole is a two way pressure restriction. After proving the concept, I tossed the cases I had experimented with and stayed out of that territory. Not enough letters behind my name to know if the practice was safe enough. I suspect it is, but premonition doesn't usually win horse races. 

 

Headspace is easy to determine. load a resized cartridge in the cylinder and rotate it into battery. Then check the clearance between the frame and the head of the cartridge with a feeler gauge. Tight would be about 0.005" and loose would be 0.020". I just measured my Ruger and it is 0.012", acceptable rattle for this cowboy. I do have a pair of open tops with about 0.020", and they never hang up. My firing pins need to be at max protrusion to keep things going bang, but they do the job. end shake is about 0.010" and cylinder to barrel clearance is about 0.015" with the cylinder pushed back when in half cock. Things can be pretty loose and still be reliable. 

 

I did write my 44-40 findings down, I've attached the write up. It's pdf.

 

Handloading the 44 WCF.pdf 169.05 kB · 1 download

 

BB

 

 

 

Thank you very much.  I am learning a lot here today.

 

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10 hours ago, Colorado Coffinmaker said:

First thing to look at is you cylinder throats and their relation to barrel bore, then the Forcing Cone.  Well, actually, the second and third things.  First thing is to check you Head Space, then Cylinder to Barrel gap, then End Shake

Yep, check this!

 

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If it works in one revolver but not the other, then the main issue is with the one revolver. Compare the headspace (gap between the case head and the blast plate) between the two revolvers. More than likely the one having problems has MORE GAP than the other.

Shooting full black powder loads in modern cases does not create as much pressures as was created with the originals from 1873 nor even the lower pressures from the 1880's. As has been said, it takes a certain pressure for the case to back out and hit the blast plate and reseat the primers back down into the primer pocket. This is also why we don't use large rifle primers.

Also, check and make sure that there is not a bur at the firing pin hole in the blast plate. Sometimes the firing pin will hit the edge of the hole, creating a spur between the blast plate and the primer.

Here are my results from testing black powder loads for the 44-40. (your mileage may vary). Modern black powder loads are shown in last entry. NOTE: If not using full loads, expect lower pressures. Read NOTE at bottom of chart for explanation.
 

Untitled.png.6b00b4e7c35175a882db22370b7f3223.png

Edited by Savvy Jack
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23 hours ago, Frontier Lone Rider said:

I have not shot smokeless in these as I purchased them with the intent of getting back to an original caliber shooting black powder.  I have a complete other set that use for smokeless.

 

I am shooting 18 grains with a 200 gr bullet.

 

That should be enough powder. I use about a grain less of APP in my 44-40's topped with lizard bedding or grits.
Double check to make sure the correct cylinder is in the correct revolver. I bought mine from a fellow who had more than four 44-40's and the cylinders were swapped. I contacted him and we swapped cylinders at the next match. (this solved a different issue than your talking about though).

 

 

Edited by Ya Big Tree
added more info.
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23 hours ago, Colorado Coffinmaker said:

First thing to look at is you cylinder throats and their relation to barrel bore, then the Forcing Cone.  Well, actually, the second and third things.  First thing is to check you Head Space, then Cylinder to Barrel gap, then End Shake

 

"First thing to look at is you cylinder throats and their relation to barrel bore, then the Forcing Cone."


I'm trying to learn something here.

What would this have to do with primers backing out? I can see spitting lead, excessive pressure and accuracy issues but not primers backing out.

Edited by Ya Big Tree
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23 hours ago, Frontier Lone Rider said:

 

I considered that, but there are not any issues with the second vaquero or the rifle.  My buddy is shooting the same loads and he is not having this issue.

 

I wish we would have had a chance to talk about it at Blackout at Stoney Bottom. We could have traded ammo to see if it made a difference. 

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2 minutes ago, Ya Big Tree said:

 

I wish we would have had a chance to talk about it at Blackout at Stoney Bottom. We could have traded ammo to see if it made a difference. 

 

Ahh, a very frustrating day, plus I missed a very well-organized and good match.  Thanks to Woody Shootem.  I hope to make it back there next year.

 

As-well-as my GPS was giving me fits.  First it took me 5 1/2 hours to get there, then it took 6 1/2 hours to get back home which should have been a 4 1/2 hour trip.

 

At this point I will take all of the help I can get.  Thanks for your input.

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OP, that 18gn of powder. Is that buy weight?

Hope it is.

Bump the load up to 20gn by weight and use a firm roll crimp. 

Measure the throats on both Ruger's. Ruger had all kinds of issues with varying throat diameters. 

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3 minutes ago, Frontier Lone Rider said:

 

Ahh, a very frustrating day, plus I missed a very well-organized and good match.  Thanks to Woody Shootem.  I hope to make it back there next year.

 

As-well-as my GPS was giving me fits.  First it took me 5 1/2 hours to get there, then it took 6 1/2 hours to get back home which should have been a 4 1/2 hour trip.

 

At this point I will take all of the help I can get.  Thanks for your input.

 

I know 7 hours is quite a haul but the MBPGA 2022 (3 day black powder match) is at Paradise Pass August 26th - 28th. We'd love to have ya.

 

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Hey Ya Big Tree!!!  :lol:  

 

Blackout at Stony Bottom was certainly some LARGE FUN!!!  If the Head Space, Barrel to Cylinder Gap and End Shake are all too open, it allows a pressure drop at the cylinder face.  The pressure drop can be enough, the cartridge case has insufficient pressure to back out and re-seat the primer.  Open Head Space alone can cause the issue if the fired case has to move too far.  An overly tight chamber can also cause if the load it too light.

 

No two guns are alike, no matter who manufactures them.  What works well in one gun may well not work at all in it's mate.  Lone Rider may wind up having to change his load for the balking gun and shoot that load in both.

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1 hour ago, Kid Rich said:

Try more powder. It's the easiest thing to do. If it solves the problem you don't need to try anything else.

kR

No.  The EASIEST thing to do is take the cylinder out of the gun and look at the firing pin bushing.  A crater around the hole or a slightly sunken bushing would be visible and doesn't need any measuring tools.  If the load is not too light (it's not), then that is the most likely problem, and the easiest to verify or eliminate.

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3 hours ago, Ya Big Tree said:

 

"First thing to look at is you cylinder throats and their relation to barrel bore, then the Forcing Cone."


I'm trying to learn something here.

What would this have to do with primers backing out? I can see spitting lead, excessive pressure and accuracy issues but not primers backing out.

 

Overly tight throats raise chamber pressure. Over sized throats would lower pressures.

 

Primers back out on every caliber of rifle and pistol cartridge ever made. The only exception are cases where the primer are crimped in. Something the military does to ensure that a primer doesn't back out too far and fall into the action. This can occur if the head space is a little on the large size. Not a good thing when in combat.

How far they back out is a function of headspace. The greater the headspace, the further the primer backs out. As case pressure builds the case is forced back into the recoil shield / breech face forcing the primer back into the primer pocket

 

If chamber pressures are too low the case doesn't push back against and reset them. 

 

You can test the by putting a primed case in a pistol or rifle with no bullet or powder and firing it. 

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Dave,

 

True.  However a too tight or rough chamber can also "grab" the case and prevent it moving.  There are times figuring out why a specific gun is miss-behaving is alot like figuring out what your Wife really wants :P

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