Ballistics by the inch

There’s more than one way to skin a cartridge.

So, the beginning of July I posted an entry about some informal .44 data I had collected.  As I said at the time:

I was prompted to do so because I had picked up some new Buffalo Bore ammunition that I wanted to try.

Specifically, this ammo:  Buffalo Bore 340gr .44mag

Heavy .44 Magnum +P+ Pistol and Handgun Ammo

And I was VERY impressed with the performance of that ammunition, since it generated over 1653 fps/2063 ft-lbs out of my Winchester 94.  However, there was a problem: it wouldn’t feed in my levergun. Oh, it shot and extracted just fine, but you couldn’t rack a new cartridge from the magazine into the chamber — they would invariably get stuck. Thus making the gun a single-shot, at least as far as that particular ammo was concerned.

So I started thinking about ways around this problem.

My first thought was that perhaps I could develop a similar cartridge using a .44special case. I knew the history of the development of the .44magnum, so i figured that it was probable that the .44special brass would withstand the pressures involved, and give me about 1/8th inch (the difference between the case length of the .44special and the .44magnum) to play with. I found a suitable bullet, and did a little research to see whether anyone had recently tried to develop such power out of a .44special case.

My research pointed to the possibility of developing full .44magnum power out of a .44special case (which was what was done historically, so no big surprise there). And over the course of the last month I worked up two different flights of test ammo experimenting with that idea.

What results did I get? Well, let’s just say that you can indeed get some very powerful rounds using .44special cases. Indeed, using 240 grain bullets (which are fairly standard for the .44) I had considerable success. The rest of the equation is left to the experienced reloader to determine for themselves.

With the 330 grain bullets, though, it was a different story. When approaching the upper end of the published  data for .44magnum, I started to see indications of stress on the spent brass which made me … nervous. Enough so that I decided not to risk shooting the last couple of test rounds. Draw your own conclusions.

And the chronographed power results were only about half of what the Buffalo Bore ammunition I was trying to emulate demonstrated.  Hmm.

Now, it is possible that with a different type of gunpowder, I might be able to come to a different result with my shorter .44special reloads. Maybe.

But we all know how hard it can be to find preferred types of gunpowder these days. So I decided to reconsider my strategy. After all, what I wanted was to have the power of the Buffalo Bore loads, but in a cartridge which would feed reliably in my levergun.

The result? I decided to try to change the shape of the bullet in the Buffalo Bore cartridge, so that the hard leading shoulder would be rounded off in such a way as to properly feed in my gun. After a bit of experimentation this afternoon, this is what I came up with:

20130801_171004

Note the rounded cartridge on the left, next to an unaltered cartridge on the right. In the pan for my balance beam scale you can see the bulk of the lead removed from the bullet in the cartridge on the left. Now, that’s not all of the lead I removed — but it is probably the vast majority of it, since I did the removal over a sheet of paper using a rasp, and then weighed the shavings (which turned out to be 10.5 grains, btw).

That cartridge feeds fine in my levergun. No problems. So the trick will be to experiment with seeing how little lead I can remove while still getting reliable feeding, and getting good at doing so uniformly so as to not really screw up how the bullet behaves aerodynamically. That should be a manageable matter. (Edited to add: see my solution here.)

But I also think I’ll drop Buffalo Bore a note, and see if I can get them to tweak the design of the bullet just a tad to make it more friendly for us levergun owners. Thanks to BBTI, I should have enough cred that perhaps they’ll take note.

We’ll see.

Jim Downey

August 1, 2013 Posted by | .44 Magnum, .44 Special | , , | 8 Comments

Some ‘informal’ .44 data.

When we did the .44 Special and .44 Magnum tests, I didn’t yet own my 6″ Colt Anaconda. And since my Winchester Model 94AE has a 24″ barrel, we decided to not include it in the tests (which only go up to 18″).

But this afternoon I decided to take my solo chronograph and go out and do a bit of informal testing. I was prompted to do so because I had picked up some new Buffalo Bore ammunition that I wanted to try. But since I was going out anyway, I decided to grab whatever factory ammo I had and just do a little informal testing. What follows are the results … using just one chrono, and usually just shooting just two or three rounds and averaging them. Below the velocity is calculated Muzzle Energy.

Ammo                                                                Anaconda                                                  Winchester 94

Ultramax 200gr .44sp                                   739 fps/242 ft-lbs                                   965 fps/414 ft-lbs

Remington 246gr .44sp                                717 fps/281 ft-lbs                                   911 fps/453 ft-lbs

Federal Hydra-Shok 240gr .44mag               1277 fps/869 ft-lbs                                 1705 fps/1550 ft-lbs

Hornady 240gr .44mag                                1376 fps/1009 ft-lbs                               1859 fps/1842 ft-lbs

Remington 240gr .44mag                            1340 fps/957 ft-lbs                                 1754 fps/1640 ft-lbs

Buffalo Bore 340gr .44mag                          1310 fps/1296 ft-lbs                               1653 fps/2063 ft-lbs

Of course, raw power isn’t everything. Actual terminal ballistics makes a big difference, depending on what you want: expansion, or deep penetration? Recoil is also more problematic (particularly out of a handgun) the more power there is.  And the Buffalo Bore ammo isn’t suitable for all guns — some just aren’t built strong enough for that kind of power, and others will have problems loading. My Winchester 94 levergun would not cycle the Buffalo Bore, meaning that I could not rack a new round into the chamber after shooting one (though it shot them just fine and would extract them without a problem). One look will tell you why:

 

Hornady JHP and Buffalo Bore LFN

Hornady JHP and Buffalo Bore LFN

 

Some other pics to share:

Ammo selection.

Ammo selection.

 

Guns used.

Guns used.

And a graphic demonstration in the power difference between the performance of bullets shot out of the revolver and the rifle: using the same reload (a 245gr LRN with 8.5gr of Titegroup), shot from about 25 yards. The can hit with the Anaconda on the left, the rifle on the right.

20130702_150716(0)

 

Jim Downey

 

 

 

July 2, 2013 Posted by | .44 Magnum, .44 Special, Anecdotes, Data, Discussion. | 2 Comments

It’s Up!

The new Ballistics By The Inch site is now up and running! Bigger, Faster, And with More DATA! Take a look, spread the word, let us know if there are any glitches or problems.

Jim Downey

December 1, 2011 Posted by | .22, .223, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .460 Rowland, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), 9mm Mak, 9mm Ultra, Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., General Procedures, Links | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wiki, oh Wiki, where do you roam?

Just spent a chunk of the afternoon and early evening doing something I had been meaning to do for at least a year: adding info about BBTI to various and sundry Wikipedia pages about ballistics and cartridges. I still need to create an actual ‘page’ about BBTI, but haven’t ever done that, so . . .

Anyway, now for all the cartridges/calibers we tested there are links on Wikipedia, plus any related entries that I could think of. But if you find yourself poking around there, and come across an entry which would appropriately link/mention BBTI, please edit it to do so (or drop me a note and I’ll take care of it.) This isn’t an effort to get more hits to the BBTI site (we’re rapidly approaching 2.5 million), but just to help more people get the information that they need.

Jim Downey

April 30, 2010 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data, Discussion., Links, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Closing in on a million.

Just under a month ago I wrote about launching the major upgrade to BBTI. Since then, we’ve had 217,390 hits to the site, bringing us to just shy of one million hits (986,999) as of midnight. Given how things have been going the last couple of days, I expect we’ll break a million today or tomorrow. [edited to add: we had over 21 thousand hits on 6/27, thereby crossing a million.]

And that’s kinda cool.

So, thanks to all who passed along word of our project. In particularly, our top ten referrers have been:

  1. www.darkroastedblend.com
  2. www.google.com
  3. www.defensivecarry.com
  4. www.thefirearmblog.com
  5. www.ar15.com
  6. www.thehighroad.org
  7. www.thefiringline.com
  8. ballisticsbytheinch.wordpress.com
  9. forums.somethingawful.com
  10. www.saysuncle.com

I find it interesting that the top referrer (by a long shot) isn’t even a firearms-related site. That we’ve risen high in Google searches comes as very little surprise, and I’m pleased that the BBTI blog itself has such a prominent spot, just after five of the best known gun forums/blogs. That’s kinda cool, too.

Anyway, thought I would pass this bit of good news along.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my personal blog.)

June 27, 2009 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data, Links | 1 Comment

Six months ago.

Six months ago we launched Ballistics By The Inch. And since then we’ve had over 770,000 hits, one major magazine article, and coverage & discussion of the site in countless gun forums & blogs around the globe. When I have checked the stats for the site, I have never failed to be impressed with just how widely it has become known.

Well, tonight we posted a major upgrade to the whole site. This includes three additional caliber ‘chop tests’, but it also includes data collected from testing over 40 additional “real world” guns – including a baker’s dozen carbine-length guns. This data has been separated out into a new series of graphs for easy comparison. All together, there are now over 150 graphs showing ballistic performance – along with all the charts giving numerical averages for each 1″ increment in barrel length for 16 different calibers. And for the true data junkies, there are downloadable files (in two formats) for the entire sequence of initial tests, and another set for the second round of testing done in April 2009.

Like the initial project, this major upgrade and revision has been a huge job – and one only made possible by a lot of work from several individuals. Yes, there were the three of us testers from the original project. But there was also the addition of a fourth tester this time around who helped us gather & operate all those ‘real world’ guns, and I would like to welcome Keith to our team. But I would especially like to thank my good lady wife for all the html coding & design for our website – both the last time and with this major revision. Quite literally, none of this would have been available without her hard work.

There will probably be minor tweaks and additions to the site in the coming months and years. We still have some ideas of data which might be of interest to the gun community. But for now we hope that you will enjoy and make use of the data provided, and help to spread the word to others who may be interested.

Cheers!

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my personal blog.)

May 28, 2009 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data | 3 Comments

The big list.

When we did the original round of tests, we used one or two ‘real world’ pistols for each caliber as a reference point for people to compare to the ideal platform of the T/C Encore. We thought that this would be adequate. But it quickly became evident that a lot of people wanted more data points of how ‘real world’ guns would compare at different barrel lengths.

So one of the major goals of this most recent round of testing was to revisit those calibers we had tested last year using a lot more ‘real world’ guns. In preparation for the testing, we started asking around from friends and family, until we had over 40 additional guns to test, in different lengths and quality. Here is that list:

Para LDA Carry 9 – 9mm, 3” barrel
Korth semi-auto – 9mm, 5″ barrel
Beretta 92 FS – 9mm, 4.875” barrel
Kimber Target ll 1911 – 9mm, 5” barrel
Sig P210 Target Heavy Frame – 9mm, 6” barrel
DSA TP-9 – 9mm, 6″ barrel
Beretta Cx4 Storm – 9mm, 16″ barrel
Kel Tec Sub-2000 – 9mm, 16″ barrel
Special Weapons MP5 Clone – 9mm, 16″ barrel

Infinity – .357 Sig, 6″ barrel

Bond Texas Defender – .357 Mag, 3” barrel
Colt Detective Special – .38 Special, 2.125” barrel
Smith & Wesson 627-3 – .357 Mag, 5” wo brake / 5.625” with brake
Korth revolver – .357 Mag, 5.875” barrel
Winchester Model 94AE – .357 Mag, 16” barrel
Stoeger Buntline – .357 Mag, 18” barrel

Beretta 96 Elite ll Brigadier – .40 S&W, 4 1/2” barrel
Rocky Mountain Armoury Sphinx – .40 S&W, 4 1/2” barrel
Browning Hi-Power – .40 S&W, 4 5/8” barrel
Ruger PC4 Carbine – .40 S&W, 16″ barrel

Bond Arms “Texas Defender” Derringer – .44 Mag, 3″ barrel
Smith & Wesson 629-5 Mountain Packer (ported) – .44Mag, 3” barrel
Smith & Wesson 629-5 Performance Center – .44 Mag, 4 7/8” wo brake 5 5/8” with brake
Smith & Wesson Model 629 Classic – .44 Mag 6 1/2”
Smith & Wesson Model 629 – .44 Mag, 12” barrel
Henry Golden Boy – .44 Mag, 20” barrel

Smith & Wesson Model 325PD (Airlite) – .45 ACP Revolver, 2 1/2″ barrel
Bond Texas Defender – .45 ACP, 3” barrel
Para LDA PDA – .45 ACP, 3” barrel
Beretta Model 8045 Cougar – .45 ACP, 3.625” barrel
Ed Brown 1911 – .45 ACP, 6” barrel
Group IND UZI – .45 ACP, 16″ barrel
Kahr Thompson – .45 ACP, 16″ barrel
Vector Arms Kriss Super V – .45 ACP, 16″ barrel
La France M16 – .45 ACP, 16″ barrel

Bond Derringer – .45 Colt/.410, 3 1/2” barrel
Navy Arms Schofield – .45 Colt, 3 1/2” barrel
Cimarron (Uberti) Colt – .45 Colt, 5 1/2” barrel
Cimarron (Uberti) Colt – .45 Colt, 7 1/2” barrel
Beretta Stampede Buntline Carbine – .45 Colt, 18” barrel
1892 Winchester Lever Action Rifle (reproduction) – .45 Colt, 20″ octagonal barrel

Quite a list, eh?

Jim Downey

April 23, 2009 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .40 S&W, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 9mm Luger (9x19), Anecdotes, Data, Links | 1 Comment

Anecdotes.

OK, this is going to be a bit of a catch-all entry, where I (and I hope Jim K and Steve) will post some little comments and observations about doing the project.  A lot of this stuff you would probably find if you poke around deep enough in either the Emails or the flickr images, but it’s nice to get an individual story as well.

* * *

See the title on the site?  The tag line: “Three guys, two chronographs, and 7,000 rounds of ammo . . . ” really oughtta be “Three guys, FOUR chronographs, and 7,000 rounds of ammo . . . “

Yeah, we killed two chronographs.  Put a bullet (a .45 colt, if memory serves) right through the forehead of the first one, which went through the one behind it.  Happened during the first day of testing in the second flight of tests.  I blogged about it that night; here’s an excerpt:

What happened was this: one of us (who shall for now remain nameless, until I can spend more time to write up the saga appropriately) was in the middle of shooting the second most powerful of the calibers we’re testing, and didn’t manage to control the gun completely when he fired the round. And it went right through both chronographs. Perfectly.

We use two chronographs, lined up one in front of the other, to be sure we’re getting good data. He hit the first one right dead center, a little high from the middle. Like a perfect shot in a movie, hitting the bad guy right between the eyes. The large bullet punched through the display, destroyed the electronics, and shattered the back of the chrono – then entered the front sensor of the second chrono, exiting out the bottom rear sensor as well.

It was spectacular. A perfect shot. I have pix I’ll be posting later.

Ah, good times, good times.  We put an armour plate (a railway tie plate) in front of the next set of chronographs from then on.  Good thing, too, that saved us probably another five or six sets of chronographs.  Live and learn.

Jim Downey

December 1, 2008 Posted by | .25 ACP, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 Colt, Anecdotes | 2 Comments

.44 Special

Here is a post pertaining to the testing and results obtained for the .44 Special caliber.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | .44 Special | Leave a comment

   

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