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This is a discussion on Blackhawk Down within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Good luck with Ruger. Hopefully they'll be able to work something out with you....


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Old December 21st, 2016, 10:29 AM   #16
 
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Good luck with Ruger. Hopefully they'll be able to work something out with you.



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Old December 21st, 2016, 12:50 PM   #17
 
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This is very interesting to me, being a long-time handloader and a .44 Mag shooter/loader.

You mention the possibility of the copper bullet making for an increased COL. I'm not really sure where you're going with that. Do you know what diameter the bullets are, and what are the diameters of your gun's chamber throats? This incident also makes me wonder: will a solid copper bullet (less malleable than lead), shot with near-max chamber pressure powder charge of a fast powder, result in a massive spike in pressure from the bullet not easily passing through the chamber throat and through the forcing cone/barrel?
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Old December 21st, 2016, 02:43 PM   #18
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Here's some data that might be interesting. Ruger designed the SBH for the original 44 Mag chamber pressure of 40k psi. Proof loads were 130% so they ran pressures of 52k psi. It is a well know fact that SBHs will hold up to at least 60k psi without Kabooming.

The current SAAMI pressure limits for a 44 Mag is 36k psi. Seating a bullet deeper or using a different bullet than the manual specifies is not as critical as with a 40 S&W or 9mm because the case and bullet diameter are much larger. QuickLOAD says a deep seated 225gr bronze bullet will raise chamber pressure no more than 10k psi. So .... if you add the extra 10k psi to the 10.5 gr load pressure of about 32k psi, you get about 42k psi .... barely over the old SAAMI spec and certainly not enough to cause a Kaboom.

HP-38 in a 44 Mag transitions from a propellant to an explosive when the charge weight exceeds 16gr (with a 225gr bullet). So .... based on the above data, I just don't see how the bullet seating depth or the composition of the bullet could possibly increase chamber pressure enough to cause a Kaboom. The only thing left is the powder charge where 16gr or more will generate enough pressure to blow the gun up. A powder charge over the old SAAMI proof load specs (60k psi) could cause a cylinder wall to crack but there's no way it would blow the top strap.

I've done "autopsies" on several Kabooms in past years. One such event was very similar to the OP's. One of my customers (an electrical engineer) was loading up some 44 Mag ammo for his Ruger SBH. His load called for 26gr of W-296 but by mistake, he grabbed the W-231 powder can. The two powders look identical so away he went. The first shot Kaboomed the gun .... the cylinder split in half and the top strap let go in front and ended up in coil held only by a little metal by the rear sight. Broken parts flew around but fortunately, no one got hurt bad. The owner did get a cut in his right arm plus some powder burns but nothing serious enough to call 911. He gave me the gun to display on the wall in my gunsmith shop .... it got a lot of attention for several years.

In this case, the cause was very easy to determine .... in fact we used a kinetic bullet puller and weighted a few charges of the remaining ammo. I will say ... he was meticulous with his powder drop because all charges were dead on 26gr. This same gun served as a reference point for other Kabooms .... almost always caused by an overcharge. BTW, HP-38 and W-231 are the same powder so I would bet a paycheck there was way too much powder in the OP's case for whatever the reason.

I had another customer's 357 BH that kaboomed with bullseye powder. The owner swore and be dammed he was loading 5gr of Bullseye under a 158gr bullet in a 357 Mag case .... a very modest target load. Funny thing .... after he got home from my shop, he called me. Turns out his scale was still set up with the poise weight on the "10" instead of "0". This meant he was dropping 15gr of BE. He pulled a bullet from a cartridge in his batch and found it had 15gr of Bullseye powder. Another good reason to get a direct readout digital electronic scale!

Last edited by Iowegan; December 21st, 2016 at 03:41 PM.
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Old December 21st, 2016, 04:13 PM   #19
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
Here's some data that might be interesting. Ruger designed the SBH for the original 44 Mag chamber pressure of 40k psi. Proof loads were 130% so they ran pressures of 52k psi. It is a well know fact that SBHs will hold up to at least 60k psi without Kabooming.

The current SAAMI pressure limits for a 44 Mag is 36k psi. Seating a bullet deeper or using a different bullet than the manual specifies is not as critical as with a 40 S&W or 9mm because the case and bullet diameter are much larger. QuickLOAD says a deep seated 225gr bronze bullet will raise chamber pressure no more than 10k psi. So .... if you add the extra 10k psi to the 10.5 gr load pressure of about 32k psi, you get about 42k psi .... barely over the old SAAMI spec and certainly not enough to cause a Kaboom.

HP-38 in a 44 Mag transitions from a propellant to an explosive when the charge weight exceeds 16gr (with a 225gr bullet). So .... based on the above data, I just don't see how the bullet seating depth or the composition of the bullet could possibly increase chamber pressure enough to cause a Kaboom. The only thing left is the powder charge where 16gr or more will generate enough pressure to blow the gun up. A powder charge over the old SAAMI proof load specs (60k psi) could cause a cylinder wall to crack but there's no way it would blow the top strap.

I've done "autopsies" on several Kabooms in past years. One such event was very similar to the OP's. One of my customers (an electrical engineer) was loading up some 44 Mag ammo for his Ruger SBH. His load called for 26gr of W-296 but by mistake, he grabbed the W-231 powder can. The two powders look identical so away he went. The first shot Kaboomed the gun .... the cylinder split in half and the top strap let go in front and ended up in coil held only by a little metal by the rear sight. Broken parts flew around but fortunately, no one got hurt bad. The owner did get a cut in his right arm plus some powder burns but nothing serious enough to call 911. He gave me the gun to display on the wall in my gunsmith shop .... it got a lot of attention for several years.

In this case, the cause was very easy to determine .... in fact we used a kinetic bullet puller and weighted a few charges of the remaining ammo. I will say ... he was meticulous with his powder drop because all charges were dead on 26gr. This same gun served as a reference point for other Kabooms .... almost always caused by an overcharge. BTW, HP-38 and W-231 are the same powder so I would bet a paycheck there was way too much powder in the OP's case for whatever the reason.

I had another customer's 357 BH that kaboomed with bullseye powder. The owner swore and be dammed he was loading 5gr of Bullseye under a 158gr bullet in a 357 Mag case .... a very modest target load. Funny thing .... after he got home from my shop, he called me. Turns out his scale was still set up with the poise weight on the "10" instead of "0". This meant he was dropping 15gr of BE. He pulled a bullet from a cartridge in his batch and found it had 15gr of Bullseye powder. Another good reason to get a direct readout digital electronic scale!
I've yet to get a bullet puller--just been setting aside all of the ones set too deep--but once I do I will surely remeasure the remaining 4.

Maybe i'll contact hogdon and see if they've ever heard of this happening.
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Old December 21st, 2016, 04:15 PM   #20
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firescout View Post
This is very interesting to me, being a long-time handloader and a .44 Mag shooter/loader.

You mention the possibility of the copper bullet making for an increased COL. I'm not really sure where you're going with that. Do you know what diameter the bullets are, and what are the diameters of your gun's chamber throats? This incident also makes me wonder: will a solid copper bullet (less malleable than lead), shot with near-max chamber pressure powder charge of a fast powder, result in a massive spike in pressure from the bullet not easily passing through the chamber throat and through the forcing cone/barrel?
Less effective volume of the cartridge is left for powder therefore increasing the pressure on the same powder charge
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Old December 22nd, 2016, 12:13 AM   #21
 
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I understand, now. I had read your 'bullets being longer' as a longer overall cartridge length. But as Iowegan addressed earlier, deep seating the bullet shouldn't have raised the chamber pressure enough to 'kaboom'.
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Old December 22nd, 2016, 05:51 AM   #22
 
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What type of pistol were you using. You see they have some load data in the book that is to be fired in ruger pistols. Cause of their heavy frame. These are marked you should heed the warning.

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Old December 22nd, 2016, 08:00 AM   #23
 
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I'm sorry for your loss.


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Old December 22nd, 2016, 08:12 AM   #24
 
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If possible, please include a photo(s).

Periodically, I see blown up .44 Mags displayed in gun shops.

I only use AA #9 or slower in my .44 mag loads most of which are 270 grains and heavier bullets. Since it is a magnum I load it heavy.

Thank you for your post.

later...

my guess also was a double charge. The lightest load I use in my .44 Mag SBH is the 240 Berry hollow point with 16.5 of AA #9, a double charge of 33 grains of #9 would be noticeable and 16.5 produces velocities in the recommended ranges for the plated Berry bullet and yet develops recommended pressure levels for AA#9. This load works well for cast bullets. A double charge of 10.5 or 21 grains of HP-38 would be 4.5 grains more than my AA#9 charge and could easily be overlooked. Both powders would probably have similar densities (not the same but sort of the same).
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Old December 22nd, 2016, 10:38 AM   #25
 
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Glad you weren't hurt, but my guess is that you loaded a double charge. I just weighed a caseful, and it held 27 grains with room to seat a bullet. 22 grains of HP38 would surely wreck a pistol.

Last edited by scattershot; December 22nd, 2016 at 12:19 PM.
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Old January 2nd, 2017, 05:53 PM   #26
 
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Seems to me I recall seeing at least one Kaboomed Blackhawk displayed in every gun shop I frequented in the mid-late 70's.
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Old January 2nd, 2017, 08:57 PM   #27
 
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This is a very educational thread. OP, I feel for you that your misfortune has become a learning experience.

I had a scare a coupla months ago with my BH .357. I had handloads made with 158 grain lead bullets and 11 grains of Accurate No. 9. Moderate loads, comfortable to shoot. A friend at the range was shooting my gun, and had just handed it back to me. I took aim at a target, and BOOM! I thought my gun had turned into a 44 magnum.

No kaboom, and the gun was fine. Just caused me to almost have a heart attack. Back at home I inspected the spent case and found that the primer pocket had become large to seat a primer, but it was not split.

I must have double charged that round. Man, was I ever glad it didn't happen while my friend was shooting.

Tip: a digital scale provides a quick and easy way to detect mistakes. If you weigh your loaded rounds, a double charge or a no charge will be way off from your correctly loaded rounds.
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Old January 16th, 2017, 11:17 AM   #28
 
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Ruger will be sending me a new SBH for ~$420. im happy to have it replaced but still absolutely not thrilled at all im out another $420.

Either way ruger is awesome.
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Old January 16th, 2017, 06:22 PM   #29
 
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If you don't have check weights for your scale you should.
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Old January 16th, 2017, 07:28 PM   #30
 
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As pointed out here by several people, that LOAD is not what blew up the gun. Whether you think you did or not, you overcharged the one that did the damage
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