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Thread: Re-Loading with Trail Boss powder

  1. #1
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    Re-Loading with Trail Boss powder

    I'm still new to re-loading and have only used Trail Boss in .38 Special to date behind Hornady LSWCHP bullets with CCI SP primers. Started at the starting loads and have worked up. Using the .88 cc hole in the Lee Auto Powder Dispenser gets about 3.9 grains, a little short of the 4.2 grain maximum. That seemed to be the best load to date. I also loaded a batch at about 3.2 grains as a lower recoil load for my wife or possibly other friends who want to try. The gun is a Model 65, 3" barrel, .357 magnum.

    I like Trail Boss for safety (can't load a double charge, easy to see that a charge was dropped) and for comfort. With the light recoil and low muzzle flash, it makes shooting the revolver a lot of fun and makes you want to shoot more. It seems I can shoot them faster than I can load them, which is a double plus. I'm getting use to the smell

    Now for the question. I went to the range today and shot another 75 or so and still like the load, but am thinking of upping the load one more hole in the dispenser to try to get closer to the 4.2 grain maximum load (max for both .38 Special and .357 Magnum). I noticed that the outside of the brass showed more soot that the handful of factory loads I shot today as well. Could this be because the lower pressures of these softer loads don't expand the brass as much or as quickly as the somewhat hotter feeling factory loads?

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    The lube from the lead bullets will cause more soot than similar loads using jacketed bullets or factory ammo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jspdrcrmach5 View Post
    The lube from the lead bullets will cause more soot than similar loads using jacketed bullets or factory ammo.
    Would that include factory ammo with lead bullets? I shot a few Federal American Eagle 130 grain FMJ but also some Federal AM 158 grain LRN? It was an impression as I looked over the brass, so I'll have to track it more closely the next time at the range and shoot some of each.

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    The soot you see is most likely from cases not expanding just as you thought, some powders just soot the cases. I'm not familiar with Trailboss so don't know for sure how it acts.
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    The simple answer to your question is yes. Trailboss was designed for low velocity loads in the large cases used in cowboy action shooting. It is a low pressure powder and will soot things up a lot more than most other powders because the brass doesn't expand as quickly or as much as most other powders. Upping your charge won't help much if any. Have fun and enjoy.

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    Another benefit of Trail Boss is that it's pretty much the only smokeless powder around that if there isn't any load data listed for it in a given cartridge, you can safely make up your own. See Hodgdon's latest reloading manual for the major details and please remember, this ONLY WORKS WITH TRAIL BOSS!

    No matter what the caliber or cartridge, fill the case with Trail Boss to the point where the base of a seated bullet would come to. Don't compress the powder as this will cause erratic burning and your accuracy will be all over the place. Dump this charge into your scale pan and weigh it. Write down that weight and list it as your MAX load. Take 70 percent of that max load, write it down and call that your starting load. Work up from the starting load to the max load a tenth grain at a time until you find the charge that gives you the best accuracy with that weight of bullet. Takes a little doing, but the stuff is fun to play with and the beauty of Trail Boss according to Hodgdon's ballistic experts, if you don't compress the load, you can't get enough Trail Boss in ANY cartridge to exceed the SAAMI safe pressures for that caliber.

    I've personally had great success using the stuff in 8mm Mauser, 7.62 X 54R Russian, .308 Winchester, and .38 Special and soon I expect good results in .44 Magnum as well. I got 3 shot "cloverleaf" accuracy with a 98K Mauser in 8mm using 12.5 grains of Trail Boss behind a 209 grain gas checked lead bullet (cast 'em myself) at 100 yards. The trajectory was like a mortar, but the results were very consistent. Got 1" groups at 100 yards with the old Mosin Nagant 91/30 with 14 grains of TB and a 185 grain gas check cast bullet. A side benefit and the main reason I tried it in the first place - reduced recoil. The 8mm Mauser load has less recoil than a .223 and the muzzle blast on an indoor range is about that of a .22 handgun. After I had my pacemaker implant, my cardiologist didn't want me shooting heavy recoiling rifles for the first 6 months. After getting the Trail Boss Loads worked up, I had him shoot a couple and he graciously allowed me to go back to shooting my rifles.

    Originally Hodgdon said only straight walled cases and only lead bullets. They have since done the testing and opened it up to any case, straight or bottle neck and any bullet appropriate to the caliber you're working with right through the big .600 and .700 Nitro Express. Neat Stuff!

    I've been reloading since 1976 and I didn't believe it when I first heard about it, but after contacting Hodgdon Powder Company and buying a copy of their reloading magazine, I tried the stuff and haven't looked back. I've gone through one 5 pound jug of the stuff and just opened the second since getting my M44C Tracker .44 3 days ago.
    Last edited by JimSheldon; 01-03-2012 at 04:04 PM.
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