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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
H110 Load - Don't Go Below 3% Off Max Corrected

We've all heard that H110 should never, ever be downloaded below 97% of max listed loads or the world will end. I've read it in countless journals and sites all over the internet.

Funny thing though is Hodgdon doesn't share our concern. You know, the Hodgdon that makes the powder. The Hodgdon who's financially liable for faulty reloading data. Yes, that Hodgdon. Consider the Hodgdon Reloading On-line Data for both 357mag and 30 Carbine. Max loads and min starting loads are as follows:

357mag - 158grn bullets - Max load 16.7grns H110, Min starting load is 15.0grns. That's 10% below max load so ???

30 Carbine - 110grn bullets - Max load 15.0grns H110, Min starting load is 14.0grns. That's 7% below max load so ???

So, I guess that "no lower than 3% below max load" mantra is just another load of internet bull.

ETA: See my post #3 below to see what Hodgdon says about this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Just Google H110 3% and you'll see a whole raft of posts about the danger of starting lower than 3% below max loads.

BTW, I got curious as to what Hodgdon would say about this myth so I called them this morning. Turns out, their tech support said that Hodgdon does have a recommendation concerning the 3%, however, it's "Don't start at more than 3% below their published starting loads", not 3% below their published max loads.
 

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That is why I put my faith in what I read from a manufacturer rather than internet gossip. The manufacturer has more to lose in liability, etc. than an internet gossiper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That is why I put my faith in what I read from a manufacturer rather than internet gossip. The manufacturer has more to lose in liability, etc. than an internet gossiper.
I take into account the information I read from sources on the internet but I always, always find a way to verify the information from a source I trust before acting on the information. It's amazing what your can find out from a company that actually makes the product if you just ask them.
 

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COSteve, If you think the "do not reduce" warnings for H-110 or W-296 are a joke, you better think again!!!

The independent labs say .... 80% of case capacity (when a bullet is seated) is the starting load so 3% less would be the absolute minimum powder charge when using H-110 or W-296. For a 357 Mag, 80% would be about 13.5gr, 16gr for a 41 Mag, and for a 44 Mag, 21gr. Why? Primarily because of the possibility of squibs and the remote possibility of a light load Kaboom!

Let's do a refresher on how powders burn. Fast burning powder such as W-231, Bullseye, or AA#2 (and others), are formulated where virtually all the powder exposed to the primer flash will ignite all at once and burn very fast. It doesn't seem to make any difference on how the powder is positioned in the case ... virtually all of it will get ignited.

Medium burn rate powders such as Unique, Universal, or Power Pistol (and others) ignite in a similar manner from the initial primer flash but only the remaining kernels (flakes) that are touching the initial burning kernels will ignite reliably. This phenomenon is notorious for "position sensitivity" where each time a round is fired, recoil will reposition powder in the remaining cartridges. Velocity can vary considerably, depending on how the powder lays in the case. Unburned powder in the bore is common.

Slow burners like H-110, W-296, Lil'Gun, 2400, or IMR 4227 are in a class of their own. The primer flash ignites the first "layer" of kernels, which in turn ignite the next layer, then the next layer .... and on and on until pressure and temperature build enough to support combustion for the rest of the powder. This is called "serial ignition" and greatly resembles how a fuse burns. Any interruption (ie air spaces) between kernels will literally cause the fire to go out ... no different than cutting a fuse. When this happens, it produces a squib. I have personally seen squib loads many times and in nearly all cases (with slow burners) there will be a caked deposit of yellow crud near the forcing cone and a bullet stuck in the bore. Should another round be fired with a bullet lodged in the bore, it is almost certain to cause the gun to blow up. Magnum primers help prevent squibs but in very cold weather, even mag primers may not light up slow burners, especially if loaded light.

Another event can also happen but it is quite rare ... a KABOOM due to a light load. Here's why: If the case wasn't filled to at least 80% capacity the powder could lay in the case in such a manner where too much surface area is exposed to the primer flash. This will radically change the powder's ignition properties and make it burn like an explosive rather than a propellant. If this happens, chamber pressure will elevate to very dangerous levels and is almost certain to blow a gun up. The catalyst for this type of KABOOM is heat. Hot gun on a hot day, loaded with light charger of slow burning powder can be a recipe for disaster.
 

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Not to be argumentative, but my Hornady 9th Edition, list the starting load for 158 gr XTP as 12.7 gr with a max of 15.6 gr for handguns. Rifle data goes from 8.6 to 15.5. For me, whenever possible, I use the bullet manufacturer's data.
 

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There seems to be a lot if confusion about starting loads with slow burning powders. The was a posts on this site comparing W296 and H110. It turns out both are the same except for the packaging and name. I reload both 357 mag and 45 LC using among other powders W296. After accepting that H110 and W296 are the same powder, i noticed a conflict in the loading data for both powders for 45 LC loads using 240 gr through 260 gr JHP bullets. In the Hornady reloading manual prior to the 9th edition had a 240 gr JHP starting load of W296 of 23.p gr and a max load of 25.0 gr. The 9th edition no longer has load information using W296 powder for bullets under 300 gr with a starting load of 17.9 gr and max load of 21.7 gr.
On the Hodgdon website the have H110 loads starting at 27.2 gr and a max load of 28.0 gr.
For 250 gr XTP bullets a starting load of 25.7 gr of H110 and a max load of 26.5 gr.
For 260 gr Nosler partition starting load is 23.5 gr8 of H110 and max load of 24.0 gr.
None of the Hodgdon loads exceed 30,100 CUP. The Hornady loads don't publish the pressure for their load data.
I have been loading 25.0 gr of W296 with 240 gr JHP for 25 years in my 45 LC Ruger Blackhawk for 25 years and have not had any problems. The one cavaet is that I apply a heavy rolled crimp into the cannelure. I have loaded a few rounds of 45 LC rounds with 240 gr JHP and 28.0 gr of W296 and plan on testing them this week. The confusion caused by different companies published loading data is a cause of concern. I will go by my test results in determining a max load. Once that has been established, I will drop down to 27.2 gr of W296 using 240 gr bullets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
COSteve, If you think the "do not reduce" warnings for H-110 or W-296 are a joke, you better think again!!!
On the contrary, I think the warning is very real. You misunderstood the intent of my post so perhaps I wasn't clear enough so I went back and changed the title of this thread. I've seen under charges of H110 detonate a pistol so I believe the warnings. I was just saying that the commonly held belief that the loads should be held to no lighter than 3% off of the max load was wrong and it actually was 3% off of the starting load.

Not to be argumentative, but my Hornady 9th Edition, list the starting load for 158 gr XTP as 12.7 gr with a max of 15.6 gr for handguns. Rifle data goes from 8.6 to 15.5. For me, whenever possible, I use the bullet manufacturer's data.
I asked Hodgdon about that very same thing and they said that different bullet manufacturers used different methods but that they stood by their recommendations.

Not really sure what to make of that especially in light of the response I made to Iowegan above.
 

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Thanks for this most interesting thread!
 

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I understood what you said the first time around. Once again,fine post,as usual.
Keep up the good work,Steve!
 

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COSteve, Thanks for clearing that up! The way I read it was ... ignore the 3% warning .... Sorry.

I have the Hornady 8th ED and several prior manuals. Hornady does some things that go against sound reloading procedures. One that I really don't like is .... they use only Winchester WSPM magnum primers with all 357 Mag loads. It's NOT a good practice to use magnum primers with any powder except specific slow burners.

All 41 Mag loads use Federal 150 primers no matter what powder is used. These primers are for standard (non-magnum) loads. Again, Hodgdon recommends magnum primers with H-110 (or W-296). In Hornady's 44 Mag loads, all listed loads use Winchester WLP primers, no matter what powder is used. I realize they do pressure test each load but it's just a bad reloading practice to use the wrong primers. Another potentially dangerous Hornady practice is their 357 Mag loads with 2400 powder .... all these listed loads use magnum primers when Alliant specifically says NOT to use mag primers with 2400.

The best powder you can find for 45 Colt "Ruger Only" loads with 250~255gr bullets is H-110/W-296 yet Hornady only lists one single load with W-296 ... with a 300gr jacketed bullet.

In Hornady's 45 Colt rifle loads, they don't list any loads with slow burning powders. Because powders such as H-110/W-296 typically take 15" of bullet travel to burn up, they are optimum for rifle barrels. Instead, Hornady lists powders as fast burning as Titegroup with most other powders in the medium burn rate. These powders totally burn up in just an inch or two of bullet travel. I guess I just don't understand their logic.

Speer, Sierra, and Nosler reloading manuals have a much better handle on the use of slow burning powders and primers. I do like the Hornady Manual for non-magnum handgun loads, although a bit on the conservative side. Probably the best thing Hornady does is to list their loads in order of burn rate with the fastest at the top of the list.
 

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...I've seen under charges of H110 detonate a pistol so I believe the warnings...
Your credibility just went out the window on that one.

What you probably saw was a bullet stuck in the bore and another round fired on top of it that blew up the gun.

I use H110 in 44 Magnum, 45 Colt and 454 Casull. I've stuck bullets in the barrels of all three calibers because of reduced loads.
I've shaken out large clumps of unburned powder. I've had bad ignition where one round went off as normal, but the next round just went poof with a lot of smoke.

I've loaded H110 so low that if I didn't notice a new hole in the target I immediately rodded the barrel to check for a stuck bullet.

Most of my H110 loads are 1 to 1.5 grains below the minimum listed charges. I've been doing this for many, many years and thousands of rounds.

Where's my detonation?
 

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JBnTx, Undercharged H-110/W-296 do go in orbit on occasion but nothing to compare with squib loads. In my 31 years as a gunsmith, I only saw one gun blown up from a light charge of H-110. It was a Ruger Super Blackhawk 44 Mag .... a very strong gun but no match for when the powder changed to an explosive. So ... it's more of a freak thing ... but it can happen. I've seen a good many revolvers Kaboom from firing a normal round after a squib. I have also seen revolvers and pistols kaboom from over charged loads of fast burning powder ... in fact I had a Ruger SBH mounted on the wall in my shop with a sign saying "Reload at your own risk!". This gun was blown up by one of my customers that mistook W-231 for W-296. 25gr of W-231 under a 240gr bullet really makes a mess of things!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I agree and H110 is my go to choice for my 158grn 357mag and 110grn 30 Carbine loads. As these are 2 of my favorite platforms (with my new Mini Ranch Rifle coming up fast) I'm on my 3rd 8lb keg of it. In fact, I recently loaded up 800rds of full power, 158grn 357mag with 16.5grns of H110 I use in my Rossi rifle for 300yd shooting and am going to load up another 400rds of 158grn 357mag with 15.6grns of H110 this morning I use in my Rossi carbine for plinking.
 

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I don't find using W296 powder to be 'troublesome'. I use it in my highest-velocity .357 and .44 Magnum jacketed bullet loads. I use the most recent loading data for a starting load (never under the minimum listed load) and work up from there. I usually find the most accurate loads to be about 1 to 2 grains below maximum. I have never had a squib with W296, nor excessive unburned residue in the gun.

If one finds a need for lower velocity loads than what the minimum W296 (H110) charge provides, select a different (faster burning) powder.
 

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Magnum cum loude, I agree with most of what you said ... except for 454 Cas. Magnum small pistol primers produce the same flash as standard small rifle primers so that isn't the reason. The true reason is .... standard pistol primers will blow out at about 40k psi and magnum pistol primers with a slightly thicker cup will blow out at about 50k psi. The 454 Cas will generate pressures to rival most rifles ... up to 60k psi. A small rifle primer has a much thicker cup and will hold up to at least 70k psi before it blows out .... so that's the reason why 454 Cas cartridges use small rifle primers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Magnum cum loude, I agree with most of what you said ... except for 454 Cas. Magnum small pistol primers produce the same flash as standard small rifle primers so that isn't the reason. The true reason is .... standard pistol primers will blow out at about 40k psi and magnum pistol primers with a slightly thicker cup will blow out at about 50k psi. The 454 Cas will generate pressures to rival most rifles ... up to 60k psi. A small rifle primer has a much thicker cup and will hold up to at least 70k psi before it blows out .... so that's the reason why 454 Cas cartridges use small rifle primers.
Maybe, maybe not.

These are my notes from a conversation on June 14, 2009 with CCI's tech dept.

I called to discuss the technical differences between their primer types. I was put in touch with one of their tech reps who was very happy to discuss their primers. She mentioned that she had worked there 38 yrs.

I was asking about the cup thickness, formula differences, and formula amount differences between their #500 (SP), #550 (SPM), and #400 (SR). She had me hold a minute to get the detail specs up on her screen and this is what she said.

Cup thickness: The #500 has a thinner cup than either the #550 or #400, however, both the #550 and #400 have the same cup dimensions (including thickness) and material hardness.

Flash powder formula: All three sizes use the same formula for the flash powder.

Flash powder amount: The #500 has a slightly smaller amount (3 micrograms) than the #550 or #400 which both have the same amount.

I asked if the SR primers could be used as an acceptable substitute for the SPM primers. She compared the #550 and #400 and then replied that yes, they appeared to have the same specs, same dimensions, same cup thickness, same formula, and same amount of flash powder. She even noted that the SPM primers were slightly taller than the SP primers and were spec'd the same dimensions as the #400.

I asked if she knew any reason not to just use SR primers for both magnum pistol and rifle applications based upon that information and she said that many there only bought rifle primers and used them for all their reloading, magnum or not. The only exception being for custom pistols where the thicker rifle cup contributed to misfires, which she said only occurred in custom race pistols.
 

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I have found from personnal experience that a too light of a crimp applied to the bullet can cause a squib load. I adjust the seating die so it puts a heavy crimp on the bullet.
I am not in the position to scientifically test my theory, which is as follows:
If the crimp (rolled crimp) on the bullet does not hold the bullet in the case long enough to allow the W296/H110 powder to completely burn, you end up with a squib load or a lot of unburned powder left in and around the barrel.
 
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