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Forcing Cone / Barrel Face erosion problem... maybe?

This is a discussion on Forcing Cone / Barrel Face erosion problem... maybe? within the Ruger Double Action forums, part of the Pistol & Revolver Forum category; I am relatively new to revolvers so I dont know how bad a badly flamecut and eroded gun looks like. I have a SRH 9.5" ...


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Old March 19th, 2010, 03:26 PM   #1
 
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Forcing Cone / Barrel Face erosion problem... maybe?

I am relatively new to revolvers so I dont know how bad a badly flamecut and eroded gun looks like. I have a SRH 9.5" in 44 that is just under a year old and I shoot it fairly regularly with hot loads. I estimate I've shot between 1100 to 1500 rounds in 10 months with all but around 200 factory rounds being screamers. The hotter I load this gun the tighter the groupings!

Now I understand hot loads will flamecut the top strap to an extent and then it should level off, I'm not concerned with the top strap as it is only lightly dusted. What worries me is the inner edge of the barrel face, where it meets up with the cylinder, looks as though it has been very roughly sand blasted. I would greatly appreciate if someone could take a look at the photos and give me insight as to how bad the erosion is.

I only shoot 240gr XTP's with either lil gun or H110. My most accurate load calls for the xtp sitting on 24.4 of lil gun. Off rest I get sub 1" group at 75 yards and 1" to 2" at 100 depending on how good my trigger finger is behaving.

I like to practice with what I'll be hunting with and I understand firearms will wear faster by shooting hot loads with ball powders. If I drop the load down to 44 special velocities, use extruded powders etc erosion will be reduced, understood I would just like to know if there is any cause for concern with the barrel face.

Sorry the images are so big but it shows more detail
Thanks in advance.










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Old March 19th, 2010, 04:05 PM   #2
 
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I don't know what the answer is. Don't get discouraged by the number of hits on this post and no responses. The people who do respond will know what is going on.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 04:22 PM   #3
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DDECK, You definitely have some erosion from flame cutting going on in your forcing cone. If it were my gun, I would chamfer the forcing cone with an 11 degree reamer. Although it wont totally stop erosion, it will slow it down considerably.

It's not just "ball powder" .... any slow burning magnum powder will do the same thing. It is a timing issue with your loads. Chamber pressure peaks at about the same time as when the base of the bullet is flush with the forcing cone. Peak pressure is also when temperature peaks so the combination of two will take its toll.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 04:26 PM   #4
 
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I cannot answer your question exactly, but I would bet that your problem stems from your use of LilGun. Bob Baker is the top gun of Freedom Arms, and he has posted over on the Greybeard Outdoors forum that he has seen bad erosion from the use of LilGun in the .454 Casull. This is with a surprisingly small number of reloads. He caught a lot of flak from the LilGun true believers, but he has no personal axe to grind so I would give his observations a lot of weight in the issue.

Your photos are great and show the problem beautifully. Baker did not post any photos with his thread at the time, if I recall correctly, but you might check the thread out.

Also, Hodgdon hadn't weighed in on the issue at the time of Baker's posting. You might send them copies of your photos and see what kind of response you get.

Baker's comments included that LilGun makes the barrels really hot, much hotter than other powders, and a number of the respondents over on Greybeard supported that observation. IIRC, Baker suggested that users of LG shoot slowly to keep the barrel temps down. From your description of how you use your SRH, it sounds like you are the poster boy for the problem.

Even though you are not shooting a Freedom Arms gun, you might try contacting Bob Baker and send him copies of your photos along with a description of how you use your gun and see if that is what he was talking about. As I said, I suspect that Hodgdon would also be interested and, if the powder is the problem, you would be doing all of the shooting fraternity a big favor.

Keep us posted on what you learn.

Last edited by Nathan Detroit; March 19th, 2010 at 04:30 PM.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 07:24 PM   #5
 
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Thanks for the help guys. I sent an email to Bob and to Hodgdon hopefully they'll actually get back to me.

Iowegan - Just out of curiosity on a scale of 1-10 where would you put the severity of the erosion? Also if I didn't cut it do you think that there would be a severe consequence?
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Old March 19th, 2010, 08:57 PM   #6
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DDECK, Using your scale, I'd put the damage at a 3 (10 being worst). The thing is .... in this condition, it is still repairable. Once it gets worse (and it will), a chamfer reamer won't fix it. If it were my gun, I'd take care of it before it is beyond repair and needs a new barrel. The saw-tooth edge of the forcing cone will cut deeper until it starts distorting bullets. At that point, accuracy will go down the tubes.

Using slow burning powder has its consequences and I mentioned the "timing issue" above. I ran some charts in QuickLOAD for several popular powders. Turns out W-296/H-110 take about 4 times longer to burn than mid-burn rate powders such as Unique. The advantage with slow burning powder is high velocity with lower chamber pressure .... very important! But wait ... there's more. One of the by-products of smokeless gun powder is carbon, which is very abrasive. This is like a sand blaster on steroids. So you end up with milti-damaging consequences in favor of magnum performance. In total .... the forcing cone is exposed to very hot gasses propelling abrasive carbon particles at very high pressure for about 4 times longer than a mid-burn rate powder plus the above timing issue with peak pressure. The slower the powder burns, the more time it has to erode the forcing cone and top strap. In other words, Lil'Gun burns slower than W-296/H-110 so it will cause more damage and IMR 4227 is even worse.

It is not a fault of the powder, it's just one of the properties you have to deal with. Just as lower operating pressures are a plus, flame cutting is a minus. If you want to shoot full performance loads, you have to pay the piper ... no exceptions.

In Nathan Detroit's post, he mentioned Lil'Gun makes the barrel get hot faster and that is true. The reason is .... the powder burns slower exposing the barrel to heat for a longer period of time. All smokeless gun powder burns in the 5000~6000 degree F range so it's easy to see why the barrel heats up. As for the metal properties ... barrel temperatures would have to exceed 600 degrees before you would see any change in hardness or other metal properties so barrel temperature is the least of your worries. I've found my threshold of pain is between 140~150 deg F where I can't keep my hand on a barrel. At 600 degrees, you wouldn't have any hands left.

As I've stated many times in my posts ... magnum loads reduce the life expectancy of any revolver. If you insist on shooting them, your gun is going to suffer, I don't care what brand it is.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 09:22 PM   #7
 
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I have nothing to add.

I just want to thank Iowegan for all his explantion. Ive been around guns for many years. I haven't reloaded in several.I'm all set up just haven't in several years.
Reading your comments told me stuff I never knew.
I want to start reloading for my Alaskan and SRH 454 Casull's soon. I sure wouldn't want to make the same mistakes not knowing. Once again thanks for your time explaining this to us who don't know.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 10:12 PM   #8
 
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Thanks. I figured I would cut it with the 11 degree like you had mentioned, just getting as much info as possible. I know it will get worse. The grand canyon started out small too... similar effect.

Seeing as a slow burning powder calls for more powder to get the performance it is also going to produce much more carbon than the lighter charges of faster burning powders. So the gun will be exposed to more carbon for a longer period of time. Deadly combo.

I found a reamer on the brownells site its a hand driven 11 degree chamfer reamer. BROWNELLS : 11 .38-.45 Caliber (080-479-451) - World's Largest Supplier of Firearm Accessories, Gun Parts and Gunsmithing Tools

Do you have a specific tool you wold recommend or is this all i would need? I did notice brownells had several different 11 degree cutters.
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Old March 20th, 2010, 05:15 AM   #9
 
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Good pics

I'm not a .44 Magnum expert but I must comment that the pictures and explanations were top notch by the poster! Squared Away! Posts like these may help countless other shooters and provide info on a topic. I am considering buying a used SRH and now I know this is one thing I need to look for.

In .357's I have never seen this problem, I have a GP100 that someone shot the hell out of before I got it, endshake is so bad it needs bearings before I will even shoot it again, but there is no where near that kind of forcing cone damage. I guess the .44 is just that much more powerful.

I've seen too many posts and have been kinda guilty myself at times, where someone will be like "That metal thingy under the cylinder has a line on it, is that bad" with no pics.
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Old March 20th, 2010, 09:31 AM   #10
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DDECK, Yes, that is the correct chamfer kit. I put a set of instructions in the Library but you need 10 posts before you can access them. see: http://rugerforum.net/library/18570-...hamfering.html

As stantheman86 stated, you normally don't see 357 Mag revolvers with this type of forcing cone damage for several reasons. The weight of the bullet is lighter, there's less powder, and chamber pressure is slightly lower (36,000 psi for a 44 Mag, 35,000 psi for a 357 Mag). This makes the "timing" a bit different so you tend to see more top strap damage and less forcing cone damage. Back in 1995, SAAMI actually lowered the max chamber pressure from 43,500 psi to the current 35,000 psi. That's because S&Ws and some other brands of guns just wouldn't hold up to the higher pressures. Back then, it was common to see 357 Mag revolvers with the same forcing cone issues as shown in DDECK's photos. For folks that have been around Rugers for a while, you may remember the Blackhawk chambered in 357 Maximum. This cartridge caused extreme damage to top straps and forcing cones. It was so bad that Ruger took them off the market. This was a very hot load with a heavy charge of slow burning powder that ran pressures up to 40,000 psi. After Ruger took the 357 Max off the market, steel silhouette shooters learned they could load 180 gr bullets instead of 158 gr bullets and reduce erosion considerably. The heavier bullet changed timing just enough where pressure peaked a bit sooner.

Although I've never tried it, in theory a heavier bullet in a 44 Mag should do the same thing as the 357 Max. Heavier bullets use less powder and pressure peaks sooner. This should change timing enough where forcing cone erosion would be minimal. Doing the math, it looks like you would have to increase bullet weight to 270 gr. Speer offers a bullets in this weight and it would be worth a try.

BTW, it's not just reloads that cause forcing cone and top strap flame cutting. All factory ammo will do the same thing at the same rate because they too use very slow burning powder to keep chamber pressure under control. There's really only one proven way to reduce damage to forcing cones and that is to load with a faster burning powder at much lower velocities. AA#7, Blue Dot, and HS-6 would be good at velocities in the 1250 fps range with a 240 gr bullet.
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Old March 20th, 2010, 02:00 PM   #11
 
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I'm sure, as in the 357 maximum, if I were to increase the bullet weight it would cause the pressure to peak sooner and it would also call for less powder. I loaded a few of the 270gr speer bullets when I was first working up loads but they just didn't fly well for me. If anything I would load up some 300gr XTPs, which I have, but that's a whole other beast.

The 240 XTPs shoots more accurately at much higher higher velocities than the 270gr speer. I also ran the energy calculations for the loads that grouped decently but it just didn't compare to the 240's energy or accuracy. So for hunting the logical choice for me is the 240 at 1530ft/sec. I can zero my scope for 75 yards and be point and shoot all the way out to 100. 1250ft-lbs at the muzzle 0.6" high at 50, zero at 75, and 1.8" low at 100 with 850 ft-lbs of energy and velocity still supersonic at 1250ft/sec.

Anyways I have been shooting my hunting rounds at the range just so I can be completely sure of what is going to happen when I pull the trigger in the field. 1000+ rounds later I feel fairly confident in my abilities. I have been planning on switching over to cast bullets at reduced velocities once I became acclimated to the high power rounds so I think after I go ahead and hit the forcing cone with the reamer I will work up a load with the lead.
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Old September 8th, 2013, 08:21 AM   #12
 
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The nice thing about this site is you can find an answer when you need, even if its several years old.

I'm experiencing this type of forcing cone wear on my GP100. I didn't really take notice to this until I started feeling stuff hit my face while shooting. I don't reload, I just use store purchased 158 gr semi jacketed .357 rounds.

To be honest, I didn't expect this kind of wear. I guess I will call Ruger, I don't think I can fix this on my own.
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Old September 9th, 2013, 03:44 AM   #13
 
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ddeck....your excellent photo of FORCING CONE EROSION in your SRH .44 suggests a truth to claims of accelerated erosion from Hodgdon Lil Gun powder. Your photo makes possible a specific answer. To clarify a point, the term "forcing cone erosion" refers more accurately to BARREL FACE EROSION.

Your stated superior accuracy with higher pressure loads may attribute to bullet OBTURATION, or "slugging up." I have seen this with some Ruger revolvers.

Your erosion is no cause for digging at your gun with a forcing cone reamer, which very well may degrade accuracy. You will have to ream deep to wipe away the face erosion, thereby forcing the bullet to suffer prolonger suspension in air between chamber exit and rifling. This exacerbates obturation, to the point bullet becomes an asymmetric gob in the rifling.

We eroded cones (i.e. barrel face) in experimental .357 Maximums far beyond your damage. Turning the barrel shoulder on a lathe to set back the barrel eliminates erosion. My handloads in the experimental Maximums featured no Lil Gun. For the record, we settled on 180 and 200 grain bullets as superior in the Maximum before a single production gun was shipped and before the gun writing press learned of its existence.

The Super Redhawk takes a bar stock barrel, which to set back requires trimming the shoulder to time the threads so that it hand tightens with front sight about 10-12 degrees Before Top Dead Center. Final step----trim barrel face for minimum gap. Providing the cone is concentric----and yours must be----there is no reason to recut forcing cone (for one or two set backs).

The accuracy you state is reason enough to continue shooting your load. How many reloads does your brass provide?
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Old September 9th, 2013, 11:38 AM   #14
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David Bradshaw, This thread is 3 1/2 years old so I expect DDECK has already made a decision.
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Old September 9th, 2013, 12:01 PM   #15
 
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Iowegan.... With thanks, yes I noticed the date. Figured the excellent photo deserved a reply. Haven't put Lil Gun to the trial as others have. Inclined to believe this stuff is erosive. I had an early 9-1/2" SRH and it could not have hung out with this one. Ddeck's SRH sounds like a real keeper. I am all about keeping a good barrel shooting. Years ago I had S&W and Ruger set back barrels to correct forcing cone erosion. I'd have been beaucoup upset, had the barrels been replaced.
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