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Old 07-19-2014, 19:04   #1
OhioGlockMan
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Peak pressure or overall energy cause more wear?

I've been curious, does peak pressure or overall energy cause more wear and tear on firearms. Think about this, you can use a fast burning powder and get a real high peak PSI pressure but a low velocity and low energy, on the other hand assume all other variables are equal and you use a bigger charge of real slow burning powder and the peak pressure is lower but velocity is higher, as is recoil and of course the slide velocity. Actually this can apply to any firearm really. Can you experts chime in on this, just want to hear some thoughts?
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Old 07-19-2014, 19:54   #2
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This was sort of prevalent when they started making the 40S&W on the 9mm frames and sizes of guns. Having guns designed for the cartridge from the ground up does make a difference as far as wear is concerned. Short answer is yes, but proper care and maintenance will go a long ways to preserving it!
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Old 07-19-2014, 21:50   #3
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The Shadow, that makes sense about the 9mm and 40, and the 9mm is actually rated for a higher peak pressure in the +p version. Here's the main thing I'm trying to understand, let say you have the same firearm and you load two cartridges for it, lets say cartridge A will have a small charge of bullseye and produce a peak of 38K PSI pressure and 1150 fps, cartrdge B has a much larger charge of 800X with the same bullet and produces a peak pressure of 30K PSI and 1300 FPS, again same bullet. When you fire them both cartridge B FEELS a lot more powerful even though the peak pressure is lower and I assume the slide velocity will be a lot higher too. Also which cartridge will have a longer case life?
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Old 07-19-2014, 22:41   #4
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It all matters. For instance, I have a S&W Model 29 (.44RM), I shoot mainly target velocities in it (240gr - roughly 1000fps). This kind of load is not hard on the gun (or shooter at all). One day I overloaded a target round by mistake with too much of a fast powder. That chamber is toast. It didn't bow the gun up, and 5 chambers are still fine, the gun is still a tack driver. That would be an example where peak pressure mattered more than higher loads for a long time (from a wear perspective).

Another example is I decided I wanted to load some 45 Super. I put some heavy springs in one of my less expensive all forged steel 1911's. This gun was pretty tight, both in slide to frame and lock-up. 45 Super is higher pressure (and a lot more ME) than .45 ACP, but quite a bit less peak pressure than say 10mm. After about 2K rounds that gun rattles like a GI 1911 from the 40's. Peak pressure had little to do with wear on that gun, it was all about weight and velocity.
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Old 07-20-2014, 09:50   #5
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WeWilly, wow when you say the cylinder was toast what happened? Is it repairable? The reason I'm asking about this topic is recently I have been shooting a lot of both 357 mag and 10mm and 85 percent of what Ive been loading are what I think are very enjoyable loads (much less kick and blast then the slow powders) with unique powder, but still full pressure, the other 15 percent of my loads are much larger charges of slow powders like blue dot and 2400, 296 in the 357, but like I said same peak pressure as the hot unique loads. One reason I love unique is its virtually impossible to do the double charge because its so bulky, so it works perfect for this application. Ive been very curious of the max unique loads will cause the same or less wear and tear on the firearms as the max loads of the slow burning powders.
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Old 07-20-2014, 14:25   #6
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Yes, Blue Dot is what I have used for many years because it provides balance of higher velocities at somewhat lower pressures. I have used it in 38spl/357mag, 44spl/44mag, 9mm, 10mm, 357Sig, 9x25Dillon, 45ACP, reduced loads form 30-30 and 30-06 and was my mainstay for 12ga 2 3/4" - 1 1/4oz heavy hunting loads.

More recently I have started using LongShot and IMR800X (all hand weighed and checked) for what it brings to the upper end performance of 10mm and 9x25Dillon. I can tell you that from the pull-downs, of what was or is being sold, by SwampFox, Underwood, Buffalo Bore and Double Tap has yielded some great information. Studying their information, along with my own testing as well as others has shown results that has raised some questions and answers on how these powders are working.

Now back to the accelerated wear question, slides and their mass are the most important part of the equation with recoil, higher impulse loads can increase the velocity thus adding to wear and stress applied to the rest of the firearm. Just like they cold hammer forged barrels to make them stronger, the reverse of constant battering can also take them apart over time and heavy use.

Yes, revolvers too can be overstressed if being battered by higher impulsed ammo. My first 50 loadings for my 44mag were upper end published book loads, it split most all of the casings, this was because they we unknown old used brass that had gotten brittle, thus why they split.

In sort nothing last forever...I know some people that could wear out an anvil with a tack hammer! :(
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Old 07-20-2014, 16:23   #7
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The Shadow,

How much of a difference do you think it would make on the life of the brass with two different loads, both loads equal peak pressure but one using small dose of fast powder and the other large charge of slow powder?
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Old 07-20-2014, 16:28   #8
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WeWilly, wow when you say the cylinder was toast what happened? Is it repairable? The reason I'm asking about this topic is recently I have been shooting a lot of both 357 mag and 10mm and 85 percent of what Ive been loading are what I think are very enjoyable loads (much less kick and blast then the slow powders) with unique powder, but still full pressure, the other 15 percent of my loads are much larger charges of slow powders like blue dot and 2400, 296 in the 357, but like I said same peak pressure as the hot unique loads. One reason I love unique is its virtually impossible to do the double charge because its so bulky, so it works perfect for this application. Ive been very curious of the max unique loads will cause the same or less wear and tear on the firearms as the max loads of the slow burning powders.
I frankly don't know the dynamics of what happened to that one chamber (other than waay too much powder), I have heard old timers call it being "jugged". I think what it is about is enough pressure to expand the chamber walls, kind of ballooning the chamber enough that it is out of shape. The net results is a chamber where after shooting the brass is difficult to extract. The irony is that chamber still shoots fine, it is just really tough to extract the cases.

I talked to S&W about it and they confirmed it needed a new cylinder. One day I will send the gun back to have their custom shop fit the new cylinder. It is a 5 month wait right now, so I have not taken the plunge.
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Old 07-20-2014, 16:31   #9
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Yes, Blue Dot is what I have used for many years because it provides balance of higher velocities at somewhat lower pressures. I have used it in 38spl/357mag, 44spl/44mag, 9mm, 10mm, 357Sig, 9x25Dillon, 45ACP, reduced loads form 30-30 and 30-06 and was my mainstay for 12ga 2 3/4" - 1 1/4oz heavy hunting loads.

More recently I have started using LongShot and IMR800X (all hand weighed and checked) for what it brings to the upper end performance of 10mm and 9x25Dillon. I can tell you that from the pull-downs, of what was or is being sold, by SwampFox, Underwood, Buffalo Bore and Double Tap has yielded some great information. Studying their information, along with my own testing as well as others has shown results that has raised some questions and answers on how these powders are working.

Now back to the accelerated wear question, slides and their mass are the most important part of the equation with recoil, higher impulse loads can increase the velocity thus adding to wear and stress applied to the rest of the firearm. Just like they cold hammer forged barrels to make them stronger, the reverse of constant battering can also take them apart over time and heavy use.

Yes, revolvers too can be overstressed if being battered by higher impulsed ammo. My first 50 loadings for my 44mag were upper end published book loads, it split most all of the casings, this was because they we unknown old used brass that had gotten brittle, thus why they split.

In sort nothing last forever...I know some people that could wear out an anvil with a tack hammer! :(
I hope the 800X doesn't blow me up. Not max loading or anything, but there is some variability in the charge drop. I could only stomach weighing every charge for the first box. After that it was Auto-Disk all the way.
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Old 07-20-2014, 19:13   #10
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The Shadow,

How much of a difference do you think it would make on the life of the brass with two different loads, both loads equal peak pressure but one using small dose of fast powder and the other large charge of slow powder?
It was posted on Star Lines site the other day that faster burning powders (even though the peak pressures are equal) tend to stretch the brass faster thus causing it to split or work harden it faster.

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Old 07-21-2014, 19:15   #11
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Wow thats counterintuitive
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Old 07-21-2014, 19:46   #12
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Not really...instead of a steady push on the brass by slightly slower burn rate powder, the brass is snapped outward by the faster burning powders, if that makes sense. Finding that delicate balance of burn rate vs. pressure vs. velocity vs. accuracy is key to longevity of the brass and the gun itself!

However brass that is work hardened or brittle can split more easily, that is why annealing is done through out the sizing process of production and some mainly by rifle shooters to recondition the brass to a more pliable condition to avoid splitting.

Hey, even I am still learning after many years of handloading and shooting!
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Old 07-21-2014, 23:24   #13
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I've been curious, does peak pressure or overall energy cause more wear and tear on firearms. Think about this, you can use a fast burning powder and get a real high peak PSI pressure but a low velocity and low energy, on the other hand assume all other variables are equal and you use a bigger charge of real slow burning powder and the peak pressure is lower but velocity is higher, as is recoil and of course the slide velocity. Actually this can apply to any firearm really. Can you experts chime in on this, just want to hear some thoughts?
Well to answer your question we have to first define what "wear and tear" are exactly.

There are two ways that a gun can be damaged when fired: immediate catastrophic failure or gradual wear and fatigue. Catastrophic failure occurs when some part of a gun breaks immediately. A couple of examples of this would include: a case web rupture or a sheared off bolt lug. These two things can happen if, for even a brief moment, the pressure in the barrel stresses any of the components in question past their maximum tensile strengths.

Peak pressure doesn't really make a difference as long as you don't exceed what various components of the gun can withstand. When you fire a gun, the pressure in the barrel/chamber increases, then decreases as the bullet moves forward, allowing the gases more room to expand. The amount of work done on the projectile is equal to the integral of the pressure with respect to volume in the barrel. Peak pressure is only a small part of the equation, because the pressure only stays at its peak for a brief instant.

The reason you can have a weak load with a high peak pressure and a powerful load with low peak pressure is because the high pressure load mighty create a lot of pressure quickly, but drop back down quickly as well. This is what happens when you use a fast burning powder. Meanwhile, a slow burning powder might take a little longer to build up pressure, but maintain a greater amount of pressure throughout the course of the bullet's travel down the barrel. This is why we use relatively fast burning powders in handguns and slow burning powders in rifles. Handguns have short barrels, so you want the chamber pressure to peak early, otherwise energy is being wasted.

Since I assume you're more interested gradual wear and not catastrophic failure, I think you should be more concerned about slide and bullet velocities. Think about what happens to a gun after you fire many many rounds through it. Friction between the bullet the barrel causes the rifling to wear down. Friction between slides/bolts and frames/receivers gradually removes material from the surface of each part. In these instances, velocity is everything, because increasing velocity also increases friction. This is why a .223 rifle barrel might have a service life of 20,000 rounds while a .45 pistol barrel might last hundreds of thousands.

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Old 07-22-2014, 17:54   #14
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Peak pressure is what blows up guns so it stands to reason that it what is hardest on them.
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:14   #15
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Well lately Ive been discovering the faster powder loads are just plain enjoyable to shoot with, and same with the rifles. I load for and shoot my 30-06 a lot and found out similar findings, like you can load the same bullet with 60 grains of slow powder or 46-47 grains of a faster powder like H4895, both equal peak pressure but the H4895 loads are less kick and blast and just plain enjoyable. I think Unique is the perfect powder for 10mm for this because it still fills up the case whereas a similar charge weight of another faster powder leaves too much empty space.
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Old 07-25-2014, 14:08   #16
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Well lately Ive been discovering the faster powder loads are just plain enjoyable to shoot with, and same with the rifles. I load for and shoot my 30-06 a lot and found out similar findings, like you can load the same bullet with 60 grains of slow powder or 46-47 grains of a faster powder like H4895, both equal peak pressure but the H4895 loads are less kick and blast and just plain enjoyable. I think Unique is the perfect powder for 10mm for this because it still fills up the case whereas a similar charge weight of another faster powder leaves too much empty space.
I see where you are coming from better now. Definitely, faster powders (everything else being equal) will yield lower velocity, hence less wear and tear on the gun and shooter, so long as you are staying under pressure maximums for the caliber.
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Old 07-26-2014, 07:44   #17
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WeeWilly, Well the loads with the slower and faster powders Im loading are both around book max from different sources so Im assuming they are both within specs and within industry pressure. Another example is I have a compact 16 inch barrel 5 lb lever action 357 mag carbine, the full power loads with 2400 or H110/296 are too much for the children, but I load a similar near book max with unique and the children love it, much less kick and blast and the unique powder does the same thing in 357, fills it up nearly all the way even though the charge weights are about 1/2 that of the 296.
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Old 07-26-2014, 08:14   #18
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WeeWilly, Well the loads with the slower and faster powders Im loading are both around book max from different sources so Im assuming they are both within specs and within industry pressure. Another example is I have a compact 16 inch barrel 5 lb lever action 357 mag carbine, the full power loads with 2400 or H110/296 are too much for the children, but I load a similar near book max with unique and the children love it, much less kick and blast and the unique powder does the same thing in 357, fills it up nearly all the way even though the charge weights are about 1/2 that of the 296.
Definitely, with the same weight bullet in the same caliber, a faster powder that is loaded at or below max SAAMI pressure will cause less wear and tear on the gun. If if were to load an even faster powder than Unique, you could get even less recoil, while still loading to max. Guys use Trail Boss for even lighter recoiling loads.
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Old 07-26-2014, 09:00   #19
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WeeWilly,

I've thought about using an even faster powder like bullseye or 231 but keep coming back to Unique in both 10mm and 357 magnum because they fill the case so much. I remember reading that when the FBI requested to make a load in 10mm to the .40 S&W power level (well the 40 didn't exist then, but they said a 180 gr at 950 fps), the very first loads were custom handloads for the FBI and they used unique powder in 10mm to make a 180 go 950 fps. Also in the 357 mag carbine 16 inch barrel I use unique in 38 special loadings, about +p level 38 power and they feel like a 22 and are so quiet you dont need hearing protection, a lot of fun.
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Old 07-26-2014, 13:21   #20
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WeeWilly,

I've thought about using an even faster powder like bullseye or 231 but keep coming back to Unique in both 10mm and 357 magnum because they fill the case so much. I remember reading that when the FBI requested to make a load in 10mm to the .40 S&W power level (well the 40 didn't exist then, but they said a 180 gr at 950 fps), the very first loads were custom handloads for the FBI and they used unique powder in 10mm to make a 180 go 950 fps. Also in the 357 mag carbine 16 inch barrel I use unique in 38 special loadings, about +p level 38 power and they feel like a 22 and are so quiet you dont need hearing protection, a lot of fun.
Unique is, well, unique indeed. I like W231 for many "target" velocities in both .357M and .44SP/RM, but I have a friend who swears it is very position sensitive (unlike Unique), especially in bigger cases like 44RM. When he shoots one of my big bore guns with a target charge of W231, he always tilts the gun straight up, before bringing it down to take aim.

I have another friend who shoots a lot of black powder rifle calibers (38-55, 40-65, 45-70, etc.) with his own cast slugs. He loads very light loads of IMR 4198 (like 16grs) and uses a paper wad to hold the powder down by the primer. He says loads like these give far better results than a powder like Trail Boss, which he says the green horn's use. He can shoot those all day long and with one of his high wall's drill a 50cal hole out of the bull at 100yds using tang sights, shot after shot.

Some fun.
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