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American Handgunner Jul/Aug 2011 Digital Edition - Page 40
John Taffin HANDLOADING SAGE ADVICE FROM THE HANDLOADING GURUS Oregon Trail 240 SWC, .44 Special, .44 Mag., Oregon Trail 255 SWC and .45 Colt. Note the deep seating. But make sure you reduce the powder charge! DeeP, CheAP Freedom Arms Model 97 in .45 Colt. Both delivered stunning accuracy with the deeplyloaded cases. Yes, that’s .5" at 25 yards! AnD ACCurATe! T he shooting world was introduced to the first cartridge-firing weapon with the .22 Smith & Wesson Model #1 in 1857. This little pocket pistol used the same style .22 rimfire ammunition still in use today with a heeled bullet. The diameter of the bottom part of the bullet was smaller than the rest of the bullet so it would fit inside the Freedom case. Twelve years later S&W Arms Model 97 went big bore with the Model in .44 Special. #3 .44 S&W American using the same style bullet. These didn’t have a crimping groove as we know it. Apparently, the Russians didn’t like the way the .44 American cartridge was put together so they ordered a large number of Smith & Wessons chambered in a new cartridge. To come up with the .44 Russian the diameter of the case was increased while giving the bullet uniform diameter, and seating and crimping into the ogive of the bullet. This became the standard method and was used, and in some cases still used today in cartridges such as the .45 Colt, .44-40 and .38-40. Today many of the mold makers of bullets for use in the old-style cartridges have improved them by adding a crimping groove. In the 1920s, Elmer Keith designed the standard semi-wadcutter bullet still in widespread use today. This bullet featured a large grease groove and a wide deep crimping groove. The crimping groove serves several Who says the .44 Special isn’t purposes, not the least of which is special! Both Rugers keeping the bullet from being pushed deliver the goods down into the case or going the oppowith John’s loads. site direction and jumping forward under recoil. I’m also convinced a good crimp is necessary to get many pistol powders burning properly. m sPeCTACulAr resulTs A 40 Ruger 45/8" stainless steel Flat-Top (left) and custom 71/2" Flat-Top (top). t my age there aren’t too many things left to surprise me. However, I was stunned at the results I obtained by seating the .45 Colt and .44 Special/ Magnum bullets deeply. I expected good results, and in most cases I got spectacular results. In the .45 Colt using both a 71/2" and 45/8" Ruger Old Model Blackhawk, 15 grains of 5744 in the former and 9 grains of HS6 in the latter both gave groups of 7/8" and muzzle velocities from 800-850 fps. With the Freedom Arms .45 Colt Model 97 every single-load shot into 1" or less. Spectacular! I got the same great results from the Freedom Arms Model 97 chambered in .44 Special, and also the most accurate shooting load of 6 grains of Power Pistol for 890 fps and a .5" group. I can’t shoot this well! Suffice it to say I won’t think twice again before seating bullets over the front band. ost folks believe gunwriters spend all their time shooting having lots of fun. Well, they are right as far as it goes. I do spend a lot of time shooting, and I do have a great deal of fun, however most of the shooting falls into the almost work category requiring chronographing, data gathering, picture taking, in fact that is work! I really have to force myself to just shoot for the pure enjoyment of shooting so to that end during the past summer I tried to set aside every Wednesday just for fun shooting with friends and family. It was on one of these particular days my friend Tony brought out his old 45/8" Three-Screw .45 Ruger Blackhawk with some loads he wanted me to try. He was looking for some pleasant shooting loads for his grandson and he gave me his sixgun and some rounds of .45 Colt he had crimped over the front band of the front of the Oregon Trail Laser Cast 255-gr. bullet. My first cylinder full went into one hole, the light came on, and I knew I had to do some testing of deeply seated bullets. Using the Oregon Trail 255-gr. SWC sized to .452" for use in the .45 Colt and their 240-gr. .431" SWC for the .44 Special and .44 Magnum I used five different powders and eight different guns to see what the results would be if all loads were seated over the front band. Be warned seating a bullet deeply cuts down on the powder space so it’s necessary to lower the normal powder charge. So actually one receives the same results with less powder. With the .45 Colt seating deep with 7.0 grains of Unique or Universal gives 1,000 rounds from one pound of powder while the standard loading of 8.0 grains crimped in the crimping groove yields the same muzzle velocity but results in 125 less rounds. Seat ‘em deep and shoot ’em cheap. deep Thinking * WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JULY/AUGUST2011