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  #1  
Old 04-12-2013, 8:51 PM
2nd Shot 2nd Shot is offline
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Default Experimental: .50AE Lead Free Ammunition... Don't Try This At Home...

I have the results of some pretty wild reloading I've been doing for the Desert Eagle in .50AE. I've done some searching in hopes of taking the handcannon out pig hunting, but couldn't find any LF .50AE for sale anywhere, so I set out to create my own. Oh yeah, disclaimer time:

Do not attempt to replicate this experiment. No published load data for this bullet and powder combinations in .50 Action Express exists. I make no claim whatsoever as to the safety, function, or validity of this data. If you attempt to replicate these loads anyway, you do so at your own risk, and should have a full understanding of what you're doing before getting started.

Bullets are obviously the hardest part, since the .50AE uses a bullet with a very short, blunt ogive. After some research and trial mockups using Quickload, it appeared that the Barnes MZ muzzle loading bullet could be physically made to fit, though like most copper bullets, they're long for the weight and eat up powder space inside the cartridge. I rolled the dice and ordered a pack of .54 caliber, 275 grain Barnes Expander MZ... You see they come in a discarding sabot, the actual bullet being .500". When they arrived, I seated a bullet and found that it would fit in the magazine at 1.610" OAL. The case mouth is ever so slightly beginning to hang out over the ogive of the bullet, but when crimped modestly, the cartridge seemed to headspace fine - about like an aggressive taper crimp with a normal bullet.

The next hardest part is the powder. These bullets weigh only 275 grains, but sit down farther in the case than a 335 grain Ranier. The best powders and charge weights for the copper jacketed lead bullets we all know don't apply here. For example, you could try to drop a charge of H110/W296 for the 300 grain Speer, and it wouldn't even fit under this bullet, even though it's lighter in weight. Even if could make it fit, the velocity would likely be pretty pitiful. Quickload seemed to confirm that a slightly faster powder would return better performance (and actually fit behind the bullet). Of the top contenders that popped up, 2400 seemed like a safe choice since it's already known to work with the big bore magnums. Surprisingly, Power Pistol (!), which I would have thought way too fast supposedly returns similar performance, though with much smaller charges - everything we know to be wrong for the Desert Eagle, but it made a good extreme test case. I didn't dare try anything faster burning for obvious reasons.

For reasons I forget now, I produced my test loads at 1.620" and found at the test site that they just barely missed fitting in the mag, so I had to shoot them single shot... I judged action movement by when the load began to lock the slide back on the empty mag after the shot. Here's the results I got:

275 Barnes MZ, Starline brass, CCI 350 LPM, OAL 1.620 (Doesn't fit magazine - oops), Alliant 2400
20.0 1248 (???)
20.5 1085
21.0 1064
21.5 1200
22.0 1233
22.5 1285
23.0 1288

Notes: All primers slightly flattened, but no signs of pressure so far - mild load by all indicators. Slide locked back somewhere 1/2-2/3 of the way through the test - forgot to document. Re investigate at OAL set to fit in magazine!

275 Barnes MZ, Starline brass, CCI 350 LPM, OAL 1.620 (Doesn't fit magazine - oops), Alliant Power Pistol
13.0 1084
13.5 1104
14.0 1129
14.5 1173
15.0 1207 (slide locks back)
15.5 1225 (slide locks back)
16.0 1252 (slide locks back)

Notes: All primers slightly flattened, but no signs of pressure so far - mild load by all indicators. Slide locked back at 15.0gn and continued to the end of the test. Re investigate at OAL set to fit in magazine!

I'm going to have to revisit these loads with the bullet set to magazine length, and to find the limits where pressure starts showing up. The Power Pistol load really surprised me, matching the performance of 2400 with much less powder, and showing no greater pressure signs at this point. It'll be interesting to crank it up and see where each of them gets. At it is, the velocity for the weight of the bullet isn't anything to write home about, but it's still making 1000 ft lbs of energy. With the huge hollow cavity in the nose, I wonder how much penetration they'll have at these modest velocities, but that's another test for another day. For the time being, dropping the slide will chamber them, and they produce enough action movement to eject and lock the slide back just fine, so hopefully the next test will cycle and feed from the magazine.

Last edited by 2nd Shot; 04-12-2013 at 8:57 PM.. Reason: Typo in the title
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  #2  
Old 04-12-2013, 8:57 PM
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alfred1222 alfred1222 is offline
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If I wanted to test some of your reloads, could I buy a few from you?
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Old 04-13-2013, 2:33 PM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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just replicate the experiment. the disclaimer is for ninnies. Keep your head screwed on and don't doze at the bench. You'll be fine. Anyone fearless enough to go for it is gonna take sufficient care to ensure their fingers staqy where they are. And if you are too worried to replicate the experiment, just keep reading and reloading and shooting 'till your experience is sufficient to yield sufficient confidence to duplicate.

I shoot TMZ's from my BFR in 460S&W. My ideal hunting bullet. 290 grain freight train moving 2000 fps. Great load.

Last edited by Whiterabbit; 04-13-2013 at 2:35 PM..
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Old 04-13-2013, 6:37 PM
J-cat J-cat is offline
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Why don't you trim the bullet and sit them out more to increase case capacity? As you already know, bullet length is more important than weight as far as pressure is concerned.
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Old 04-13-2013, 10:19 PM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J-cat View Post
Why don't you trim the bullet and sit them out more to increase case capacity?
I don't agree with sentence #2 but for this one
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Old 04-16-2013, 7:28 PM
2nd Shot 2nd Shot is offline
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Believe me, I halfway considered bringing them to work, putting them in a collet in the lathe, setting up a stop, and then carefully facing down the nose to shorten the ogive and overall bullet length. Then I figured, if I was going to go that far, why not hop on Mastercam or one of the conversational CNC lathes, load a piece of copper bar stock and... Then I realized that the challenge for me was using something off the shelf and making it work. That, and making ammo on company time is probably frowned upon...

Other options exist. According to the Barnes website, the 275 grain XPB for the .500 Mag is actually shorter than the 275 MZ... Doubtful that the cannelure will be in the right spot, but it couldn't hurt to ignore it and seat deeper. It's entirely possible that being designed for the .500 Mag, the XPB won't open at the lower .50AE velocities. The shorter OAL could be due to a smaller nose cavity? I've ordered one box to try and will report back here with my findings.

Guncrafter Industries offered a .50 caliber 185 and 230 grain Copper Hollow Point that have a pretty blunt ogive that would certainly fit. The problem is that they're so light, if you could get them to cycle they'd probably be doing 1600+ FPS, at which point they'd probably disintegrate into bits on impact, copper or not. Could be interesting?

Either way, I've got a pack of MZ's and XPB's on the way and will continue the experiment up until pressure signs show up. Hopefully this time, they'll be feeding from the magazine.
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Old 04-16-2013, 8:06 PM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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you can use a lathe trimmer like the RCBS and cutter to shorten the nose.

Or a file before loading. Not sure I'd file a loaded cartridge
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Old 04-17-2013, 9:14 AM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd Shot View Post
Do not attempt to replicate this experiment. blah blah blah your own risk, blah blah blah.
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Old 04-17-2013, 5:33 PM
2nd Shot 2nd Shot is offline
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Hahahah. Things were much better in the good old days... As much as I'd like to believe that as a group, we're above average in the self sufficient and common sense department, this is the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia, after all - the land of opportunity (paid for by somebody else). CYA!

The only significant risk is taking that first shot with an untried combination. You can reduce that risk by careful study and erring on the side of caution, but you won't truly know how it behaves in reality until you fire, which I've already done here. Once you know that you're reasonably in the ballpark and haven't made a gross error or encountered and unforeseen problem, then it's relatively safe carefully working up while making observations and judging whether to continue, stop here, or abort like.

All that's left to do here is to work it up until it hits pressure, back down a safe margin, and check for reliability and accuracy. I'll report back soon with the results of the next test.
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Old 04-17-2013, 9:22 PM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd Shot View Post
... As much as I'd like to believe that as a group, we're above average in the self sufficient and common sense department, this is the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia, after all.
Did you know that more than 50% of people classify themselves as above average?
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Old 04-18-2013, 6:55 AM
sargenv sargenv is offline
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I kind of wonder how this would do with Blue Dot or Herco.. both are considered on the slower side for Pistol.. but not true "magnum" handgun powders... well, Blue dot kind of is.. but not in the same burn rate as H110/296 AA#9, etc.. You may also want to look into AA#7.. it too is in the same burn range...
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Old 04-18-2013, 7:25 AM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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Slow powders are too slow for such short barrels and really need 10"+ barrels to come into their own, or heavy bullets (275 is light). 2400 is probably an ideal powder for this application.

Looks like BlueDot is on par with 2400, but Herco considered faster. Herco might be a good candidate.

On the other hand, for a hunting load where muzzle flash means nothing, if 2400 works why change, right?
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Old 04-18-2013, 7:29 AM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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I forgot to ask the important question:

Your seat length is way out there, full mag length. I hope they don't get bound on the ride up to the chamber! But what's the case fill? If you are at 80% for your loads that seem to have the post accuracy potential, why not plunk the bullet down onto the powder? That gives you the more efficient 100% case fill, more reliable ignition, usually brings the SD's down on the chrono, and you'll get more reliable (if there's an issue) feeding through the mag.

Yes?

Unless you are already compressing the powder?
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Old 04-18-2013, 8:36 PM
2nd Shot 2nd Shot is offline
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Yeah, it seems that a true slow burning magnum revolver powder is going to be too slow and too bulky. Looking up the relative burn rate (for whatever that's worth) of powders shows other possibilities like Accurate #7, Ramshot Enforcer, Blue Dot, and hey... Actually call me crazy, I just realized that 800X is in that range too and is known to work in .44 Mag. It has quite a reputation in 10mm for maximum velocity, but really rocks on with light for caliber bullets in my testing... Could work.

Whiterabbit - I'm sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place on these loads. According to QL, it says I'm 10% compressed with 2400 at this OAL. Shaking the cartridge confirms that it's either compressed, or getting there. The other problem is that if I seat any deeper, the case mouth will be crimped down around the ogive. It may actually be already, but it's so slight that it doesn't seem to effect headspace, and possibly even helps prevent the edge of the case from catching as tends to happen on these guns with narrow nose bullets without a good taper crimp. I'll only know if they'll cycle and feed from the mag correctly next experiment, but all indicators look ok so far. They're shaped a whole lot like the Ranier 335gn plated HP which has the same problems, though it performs great with conventional powders.

I'm hoping that the XPB's will have a slightly shorter ogive, but wouldn't be surprised if it's essentially the same bullet with a slightly smaller cavity (designed for .500 Mag at 2000+ FPS vs muzzle loader at 1600) and a bit shorter. We shall see.
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Old 04-18-2013, 9:16 PM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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nope, if you are compressed, you're boned. Time to find a new powder. Just hop on down to your local shop to the powder aisle and......

wait a sec....
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