Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Ammo Review: Big Bore Revolver

This month's Ammo Review is of two big bore revolver cartridges from Hornady.

The ammo for this review was provided by Widener's Reloading and Shooting Supply

The first of the two loads from Hornady is the 300 grain XTP for the .44 Magnum.
The .44 Magnum is probably my favorite overall cartridge. I happen to own five firearms chambered in .44 Mag (3 revolvers and 2 rifles). It was also the first centerfire handgun I ever fired....when I was just a wee lad. See my post on the history of the .44 Mag here.

In my opinion the .44 Mag is one of the most versatile handgun cartridges ever conceived. While you won't be ringing a gong at 1000 yards, it is capable of hitting a target at 600 yards (Bob Munden proved Elmer Keith's legendary shot on an episode of Impossible Shots). It can take any known creature in North and South America and most of the remaining ones around the globe. 

In 1965, Magazine publisher Robert Peterson took a 14 ft tall Polar Bear near Kotzebue, Alaska with a nickel plated model 29 Smith.

For this test, we will be using three guns, a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 7 1/2" barrel

A Winchester model 94 with a 16" barrel

And a Ruger Super Blackhawk with a 5 1/2" barrel

This load is a 300 grain XTP, which stands for Xtreme Terminal Performance. These are perforated, jacketed hollow point projectiles

Before heading out to the range, I measured the combined overall length and the weight of five randomly selected cartridges. Below are the results:

Cartridge 1: 1.582" - 432.7 grains
Cartridge 2: 1.582" - 434.4 grains
Cartridge 3: 1.584" - 434.4 grains
Cartridge 4: 1.587" - 434.4 grains
Cartridge 5: 1.581" - 432.7 grains

The very consistent numbers provided an average COAL or 1.5832: with a deviation of only .006", the average weight of the cartridges was 433.72 grains with a deviation of 1.7 grains.

It will be interesting to see if these will feed in my model 94 Winchester.

Hornady's website did not provide the advertised COAL, although the cannelure crimp would dictate a COAL close to our 1.58" average

The velocities between the guns, to our surprise, did not vary much. I had expected to see at least a slight jump in velocity when fired from the 16" rifle barrel, but there was little difference. 
The average for the 5 1/2" barreled Ruger was 1,122 fps  with a deviation of 42 fps 
The Super Blackhawk with the 7 1/2" barrel had an average of 1057 fps and a deviation of 176 fps.
The Winchester 94 saw an average of 1,144 fps and a deviation of 180 fps.

Hornady's website gave a tested velocity of 1,150 out of a 7 1/2" barrel, this was just about 100 fps faster than our average for the 7 1/2" Super Redhawk, in fact only one of the cartridges tested ran faster than 1,150 fps. 

Side note, the 300 grain rounds fed and functioned perfectly in the Winchester 94

Widener's sells these 20 round boxes for $21.00, see them here

Next up: Hornady 45 Colt 255 grain Cowboy Lead

I am a big fan of Westerns and Cowboy guns. My favorite movie of all time is Tombstone. I happen to own several single action revolvers including one of the Ruger Vaqueros that  was used to test this ammo.

If the proper case and firearm are used, the .45 Colt can be a very versatile round. Some case manufacturers, like Starline, proof test their brass to .44 Magnum pressures. So if you have a Ruger Blackhawk or original Vaquero in .45 Colt, you can get .44 Mag performance from the old Cowboy cartridge, of course you would want to use all precautions and work up your loads slowly.

These Hornandy Cowboy Action Loads are on the opposite end of the spectrum though. They don't even match up to the original loading of the .45 Colt. 

The original .45 Colt cartridge from 1873 was loaded with 30 grains of black powder and pushed a 250gr lead round nose bullet to just around 1000fps from a 7 1/2" Colt Single Action Calvary model.

These loads weigh in at 255 grains and have a reduced powder load for fast recovery in the shooting competitions. The advertised muzzle velocity is just 725 fps

As above I selected five cartridges at random and measured the combined overall length and weight of the entire cartridge. Below are the results:

Cartridge 1: 1.574" - 376.1 grains
Cartridge 2: 1.576" - 377.2 grains
Cartridge 3: 1.572" - 375.8 grains
Cartridge 4: 1.575" - 376.1 grains
Cartridge 5: 1.574" - 375.2 grains

The very consistent numbers provided an average COAL or 1.5742 with a very tight deviation of only .002", the average weight of the cartridges was 376.08 grains with a deviation of 2 grains.

The SAAMI specs below show a maximum COAL of 1.60" and a minimum of 1.515, these Hornady cartridges are well within the specs.

Hornady's website also did not provide the COAL for these cartridges.
The website did explain the way the bullets are knurled instead of grooved. Lead bullets require lubricant to prevent leading the bore of the gun, Hornady uses knurles instead of grooves. They explain that the knurling distributes the lubricating wax more evenly.

Here are the two Vaqueros, a 4 5/8" and a 7 1/2"

The average for the shorter barreled Vaquero was 731 fps, with a deviation of 141 fps.

The average for the 7 1/2" Vaquero was 793 fps and a deviation of 193. Which is close to a 10% increase in velocity over the shorter barreled Vaquero.

The advertised velocity of 725 fps came very close to 731 fps average for the shorter barreled Vaquero.

These are listed on Widener's website for $19 for the 20 round box, see them here

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