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American Handgunner Sep/Oct 2010 - Page 24
John Taffin HANDLOADING Trail Boss is a natural for easier shooting loads in this Mag-Na-Port .480 Ruger. SAGE ADVICE FROM THE HANDLOADING GURUS Trail Bossin’ The Really B Big BORes y my definition sixguns are divided into four categories. The .22s and .32s are small bores, the .38 Special and .357 Magnum are medium bores, the .41s, .44s and .45s are classified as big bores — anything above .45 becomes a really big bore. These latter .48 and .50 caliber cartridges feature heavy bullets from 300 to 400-plus grains, magnum-style muzzle velocities, and the necessary attendant heavy recoil. Heavy enough, in fact, to make the .44 Magnum seem like a .38 Special. They are all special-purpose cartridges designed for one thing: big game hunting. When Cowboy Action Shooting started in my area more than 25 years ago, we mostly shot black powder .45 Colt loads or smokeless powder loads at the same level. All was right and everyone was happy. But then what was fun turned into something more serious as more and more shooters began trying to get lighter and lighter loads out of the .45 Colt. Hodgdon/IMR spent five years coming up with the proper powder, which would allow light loads using cast bullets to be assembled safely. That powder is Trail Boss, and it’s unlike anything else out there. At least once a week someone posts on the Internet they have been loading Trail Boss and they “can’t get any velocity out of it!” That’s the whole point of this powder. It’s not made for high velocity loads, just the opposite. The purpose of Trail Boss is to be able to load relatively light loads, with no danger of an overload. Test-Fire: hodgdon’s Trail Boss Firearm Bullet/ Charge MV (fps) group (inches) .500 lineBaugh LinebaughCustomBisley51/2" 300WFN/13.8gr. LinebaughCustomBisley51/2" 400WFN/10.8gr. 830 805 818 830 15/8 15/8 5/8 11/2 .500 s&W MagnuM S&WX-Frame.5004" S&WX-Frame.5004" OT370GC/14.0gr. 400Keith/14.0gr. .500 s&W speCial S&WX-Frame.5004" FreedomArmsM8343/4" *Four shots at 20 yards. 370OTGC/9.5gr. 776 2 * .475 lineBaugh Hornady325XTP/9.4gr. 754 .480 RugeR RugerSuperRedhawk4.8" SpeerGD275/9.4gr. FreedomArmsM8343/4" SpeerGD275/9.4gr. RugerSuperRedhawk4.8" OT355GC/8.5gr. FreedomArmsM8343/4" OT355GC/8.5gr *Four shots at 20 yards; redhawk five shots at 20 yards. 795 830 804 822 * * * * IdIot Proof B ack in the 1920s Elmer Keith recommended black powder to beginning reloaders, as it was idiot-proof … well almost. Never underestimate the ingenuity of an idiot. Keith said all one had to do was fill the case with powder, seat the bullet and shoot. Trail Boss is almost that simple. A maximum load is found by filling the case to the base of the bullet without compression; a minimum load is 70 percent of that charge. For my use, I measure the distance from the base of the bullet to the crimping groove and then load cases with powder below this distance from the edge of the case mouth. So for me, Trail Boss is the perfect solution for the really big bores. I load them to the maximum load as outlined above, which results in muzzle velocities mostly in the 750850 fps range. This may Perfect Trail Boss fodder: not sound like much .500 Linebaugh with until one realizes we are 300 WFN, 350 WFN, shooting 350-400-grain 365 RN and 400 WFN. bullets at .45 ACP hardball muzzle velocities; that definitely takes them out of what some might 24 Trail Boss and the .500 S&W Magnum equates to easyshooting accuracy. choose to call a wimp category. The chart shows a few loads to give you an idea of what Trail Boss can do for you. I still keep a few rounds of each of the really big bores loaded to the hilt, however the vast majority of my reloads have now been Trail Bossed. Sixgunning really big bores is enjoyable once again. * WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2010