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Which powder for use in Ruger Alaskan 44 Mag 2 1/2 barrel gun?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Smooth_squeeze, Apr 17, 2014.


  1. Smooth_squeeze

    Smooth_squeeze
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    Perhaps there's a thread dealing with this question, but I didn't find it using the search function. If there is such a thread, please point me in that direction.

    Somewhere I read that if 44 magnum doesn't push someone to reload, probably nothing else will.

    That said, I have several hundred rounds of 240 gr JHP ammo, but want to start reloading before I shoot my stock all up.

    My gun is the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan in 44 mag, with the 2 1/2 inch barrel.

    There is some ammo commercially available from Speer designated "Short Barrel" and there may be some others out there, too.

    But I'd like to handload ammo for my gun, and am unsure which powder is best for that purpose. In the beginning at least I'll be shooting 240 grain bullets, either hard cast lead or perhaps some copper coated bullets in 240 gr.

    Any suggestions will be most appreciated.

    Also, which of the many reloading manuals do you suggest I get? I'll be reloading for 45 ACP as well.

    Thanks.
     

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  2. WeeWilly

    WeeWilly
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    Speer ammo labeled "short barrel" means they are using hollow point bullets that will open easier (at lower velocity) than a bullet normally used in that weight and caliber.


    The limiting factor performance wise is the barrel length. Nowadays, the "optimal" powder may not be available and you may be stuck with "what you can find".


    When you can find it give AA #9 a look. It will deliver excellent results for max effort jacketed loads, but unlike many of the other "max velocity" powders (like H110), #9 downloads well to target velocities.


    Good luck.
     

  3. Kentguy

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    Smooth_Squeeze,

    I have tested the 240g JSP FN bullet (Remington) out of my 44 mag. only I have a 8 3/8" barrel. I will not post my numbers here because of the difference in barrel length.

    I used Alliant 2400 which makes for a very nice accurate round. Meters well and burns very clean in my tests. I needed a round to stretch out to 100 yards so these are a bit warm for not over bearing. Then again with a 2 1/2" barrel you are looking for a bit more up close & personal use. I think 2400 would be a good choice in powder for you.

    I used the "Speer Reloading manual #14" for my numbers.

    Good luck and be safe out there
     
  4. snowwdog

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    i would stay away from 2400. it wont have time to burn in that short barrel. its very dirty if you download it or if it doesnt have time to burn. Its awesome for full power loads. I also love h110 for full power. It will throw a fireball 10 foot in front of that little 2 inch barrel. In the grand scheme it doesn't matter what you use your not going to burn all the powder before the bullet gets out of the barrel. might want to try unique. Problem there is loading density. I used universal clays on some 44mag once. Very small powder charge but moved the bullet pretty good. Very low recoil. Problem was it didnt "feel right". So i abandoned any further testing of universal.
     
  5. fredj338

    fredj338
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    Regardless of bbl length, if you want the highest vel, use the slower powders like 2400, H110/W296, AA#9, LilGun, even BlueDot. There is no free lunch when it comes to short bbls. The highest vel will be with the slowest powders, BUT you will pay for that in blast & flash. If you just want midtange plinkers, then medium burners like Universal, Unique, HS6, WSF, AA#5 & 7, will work fine, & give you less blast, but also a little less vel.
     
  6. njl

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    It kind of comes down to a question of what sort of performance you want and what powder can you actually get. If you're looking at using hard cast, coated or plated, you're probably not going to be loading full power H110 type loads. You could load light target loads with Clays/Clay Dot/Red Dot, or middle of the road sort of loads with Universal Clays or CFE pistol. Given the current powder situation, you really need to just see what you can find and then figure out how suitable it is.
     
  7. WeeWilly

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    I agree.

    This is a common misconception that with short barrels you somehow can get higher velocities using faster powders. As Fred said, the powders that deliver the most velocity with a 12" barrel, will deliver the most velocity out of a 2" barrel.

    The good news is with that short barrel, you won't be pushing any bullet, plain base lead, plated or jacketed, past it's speed limit.
     
    #7 WeeWilly, Apr 17, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  8. Smooth_squeeze

    Smooth_squeeze
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    Thanks for the suggestion! At this point, I haven't taken a good look in an actual brick and mortar store to see what's available powder wise... Thanks also for the info regarding the Speer "short barrel" bullets. Very helpful.

     
  9. Smooth_squeeze

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    Thanks, Kentguy. Tell me... are the various editions of the Speer manuals markedly different?

     
  10. Smooth_squeeze

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    Hey there, Snowdog!

    Well, well... you've touched on one of my interests, namely, muzzle blast. As it turns out, I LIKE it...

    Or perhaps I should say I like it in certain circumstances, as for instance, when I'm shooting 44 mag. In other calibers, it's not what I'd want, but in 44 mag, yeah.

    Why? Well, there's the intimidation factor, in the case of a self defense situation. Big blast = intimidation, at least in my book.

    Since the 2.5 inch barrel won't allow the powder to completely burn, is it your opinion that H110 will produce MORE muzzle blast than other powders?

    Also, the FPS I'd get out of that short barrel will be decent, right? Is there any advantage to running a much heavier or lighter bullet than a 240 gr. in a short barrel?

    Thanks!

     
    #10 Smooth_squeeze, Apr 17, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  11. Smooth_squeeze

    Smooth_squeeze
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    Thanks, NJL,

    At this point, I don't know what powder I'm going to find in a Cabelas, for instance. What they have online and what's available in their stores are two possibly different things.

    So, I'll find out when I visit one, hopefully in the next several days.

    While I listed two different bullets in my original post, if I can't get those bullets, and jacketed bullets are the only ones available, I'd go with those.


     
    #11 Smooth_squeeze, Apr 17, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  12. Smooth_squeeze

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    Thank you, sir.

    By the way, what's the speed limit for hard cast bullets? And will I never reach that with my Alaskan?


     
  13. WeeWilly

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    It depends on the bullet, but just about any commercially cast bullet will be plenty hard enough to withstand the velocities you will be pushing in the Alaskan.

    The most important factor when shooting lead is making sure your bullets are sized properly. Along with this consideration, many newer revolver throats are sized for jacketed bullets, so getting them checked to assure they are not too small for your lead bullets will help minimize leading.

    My guess is you should be looking at about 1100 fps for a 240gr bullet with a full house load with that barrel.

    PS - you will definitely get a big muzzle blast from h110/w296. A longtime poster here relayed a story where he set one of his paper targets on fire when shooting a big h110 load out of one of shorter barreled revolvers. Put your sunglasses on for indoor work... ;)
     
    #13 WeeWilly, Apr 17, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  14. Smooth_squeeze

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    How do I check bullet sizing? Will a digital caliper be adequate to do that?

    My Ruger Alaskan is basically brand new. I bought it about 3 weeks ago, and it had been in the gun store for less than a week, having come directly from Ruger. Do I need to get it checked??

     
  15. WeeWilly

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    The way you tell the bore size is by slugging the barrel. There are a number of videos on YouTube to take you through it. You can also slug the throats, or have a gunsmith check them with pin gauges. You want your lead bullets to start out at least .001" larger than your bore size. The throats ideally will be .001" larger than your bullets.

    One way to start would be to buy .429" plated/jacketed and use those for a while until you get some experience. Try and get bullets with a cannelure, versus plated without as if you decide to run some H110/W296 loads, a nice firm roll crimp wil help.
     
    #15 WeeWilly, Apr 18, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014
  16. fredj338

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    There really is no "limit" with a medium to hard cast bullet in a 44mag handgun, any bbl length. I have run cast lead to 1500fps in the low pressure 45-70. In the 44mag 1400fps is easy. The key is proper bullet fit; 0.001" minimum, larger than bore dia. In any revolver, propr cyl throat dims a crucial foe good lead bullet performance,
     
    #16 fredj338, Apr 18, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014
  17. Kentguy

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    Smooth_Squeeze "Tell me... are the various editions of the Speer manuals markedly different?"

    The 240g bullet/loads have been around since the 50'S (not 100% sure about that) so some load data mostly powders that have come/gone or changed names may be different.

    I re-checked my notes and I did test a load using H110 and although my results they were not bad at all, however for those tests my results (and revolver) liked 2400 best (just some FYI there).

    For your concern toady as I suggested in your other post, pick up a copy of Speer's Reloading manual #14 which has the latest Data you will need for that new revolver you just picked up.

    Keep in mind that this bullet was originally designed as a hunting round for small to medium size game, so most data out there is skewed in that direction. Meaning the final product is meant to pass through a deer or elk. Will it work on humans? I should think so! However when working up loads with past or present data, just keep that in mind.

    Good luck and be safe out there
     
  18. Smooth_squeeze

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    Great info!

     
    #18 Smooth_squeeze, Apr 18, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014
  19. Smooth_squeeze

    Smooth_squeeze
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    Thank you, sir; very helpful.

     
  20. Smooth_squeeze

    Smooth_squeeze
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    Thanks for all the great suggestions.

    Found some H110 today and bought a bottle. Store only had large magnum pistol primers? Any problems with those? Expect to buy some of the Oregon Trail laser cast 240 grain bullets, with canelure.

    Any recommendations for starting loads with this combination? Also, what might the max load be?

    Thanks.
     
    #20 Smooth_squeeze, Apr 19, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
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