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I intended to get some chronograph readings to go along with this but I could not get any consistent readings. The powders I had on hand were Alliant’s Red Dot, Unique, 410, and 2400. Locally I could not find Unique or 2400, but there is a good supply of 410, so I did most of my initial testing with it. I looked online at AlliantPowder.com in their reloaders guide to get an idea of where to start. The 2 ½ ” 410 ½ oz load data showed several starting loads of 11grains of 410 and 13 grains of 2400 with various hull and wad combinations so it seemed like a reasonable place to start. I was talking with my buddy Wayne about the project and he volunteered an assortment of powders to give a wide range of fast to slow pistol powders for a comparison. There is not any published load data for what I was doing, so I turned to Quickload, http://www.neconos.com, to see if a computer simulation would match up with what I thought would work. I entered in the case length and capacity and used the shot column length with wads in place for the bullet measurements. I adjusted the values with 13 grains of 2400, for Quickload to give a reasonable pressure estimate. I used this as a baseline to get starting charges for the other powders.
I backed off the Quickload estimated charges by roughly 15% and worked up in small increments until the patterns started to get larger and then used the heaviest load that still gave good patterns. Not all of the guns liked the same loads that would shoot great in another. With ten different powder options you should be able to find something that would work in your individual guns.
I primed several of the Magtech cases with Winchester large pistol primers, then charged the cases with 13 grains of 2400, next went the thin, .05”, fiber wad that was pushed into place with a 3/8” steel punch. Then a ½ oz of no. 8 shot was poured in, followed by a 1/8” nitro card wad on top of it all. I used a 44-40 seat and roll crimp die to push the top wad down and roll crimp over the top to hold everything in place. I stapled a target to a card board box, measured off 10 feet and armed with hearing and eye protection, I shot the first round in my 5.5” Stainless Ruger Bisley. It had very low recoil and the fired case just fell out of the chamber when tipped up. I measured the fired case next to an unfired one and it showed very little fire forming in the shoulder area. So I assumed that the pressure was indeed very low and it should be safe to continue.
I switched to Alliant’s 410 powder and loaded 11, 12 and 13 grains of it with ½ oz of no. 8 shot and tried the various loads out on some targets at 10 feet to get an idea of where things were at. They all shot just below point of aim, from my 5.5” Bisley. They all burned clean and gave surprisingly good patterns. I adjusted my point of aim to cover the bullseye with the front blade which gave nice patterns centered on the bullseye. The patterns seemed to get larger with the increase in powder charges, so I decided to stay with the 11 grain load. Next I tried the 460 S&W cases which gave essentially the same results. The 444 Marlin brass had a smaller capacity and I could only get .45oz of shot in them and still have enough room for the nitro card wad on top. If you can find them, the 460 S&W cases definitely take the least amount of work to form into shot loads. The rims on the 410 Magtech cases are thinner than the 460 and 444 cases. So upon firing, the primers would back out just a very small amount. This never did cause any problems with the operation of the revolver, it’s just something to be aware of. Also the rims of the Magtech 410 brass cases seemed to be a little off center. So you could trim the cases a little bit with a file, or rotate the cartridge to get it to seat fully in the chamber.
I found that once the powder and fiber wad were in place you could just scoop the case full of shot, pour it into a powder pan and then pour the shot slowly into the case using a powder funnel. This allowed the shot to pack tighter and in some instances up to .625 oz of shot could be used.
For a comparison, I loaded a regular 45 Colt case with 11 grains of 410, a fiber wad over the powder, .36 ounces of no. 8 shot and a 45 cal gascheck on top to hold everything in place. I tried it out on a target at 10′. The resulting pattern had all of the shot in a much smaller area, but there was obviously far fewer pellets.
With my meager selection of powders and accompanied by my buddies powders, we had 10 different options to choose from ranging from Red Dot on the fast side to 2400 at the slow end. The accompanying table shows the powders and charges tried. All of them had about the same recoil, burned clean and gave very good patterns. The loads needed to be tailored for the individual gun used. For instance 11gn of 410 gave excellent patterns in the Judge, very good patterns in my 5.5” Bisley, but were terrible in my buddies 5.5” Redhawk. I tried a couple of different powders and found that the Redhawk liked 6gns of AA#2 and 6gns of Bullseye which gave very good patterns.
AA #9 -11gns
Blue Dot- 8gns
AA #2- 5.5gns
Red Dot- 4gns