There was a hint of spring in the air so I headed to the range despite ankle-deep mud and 30° temperatures.
4″ S&W; M29 with 0.4336″ throats, deep-seated plain base design, 0.434″, heat treated mystery alloy, 24 gr. H110, EL#3, Quickload predicted 1317 fps at 32900 psi. Actual velocity 1292 fps, 64 ES, average 4.6″ at 5 yards. Minor-ish fouling on one side of the barrel, but it did seem to accumulate as more shots were fired. I had to turn the necks on these 15 cases so that the gun would chamber the 0.434″ bullets (the chambers are too tight to swallow 0.434″ bullets with unturned cases). I wanted to see if the 0.434″ PB bullets would shoot cleanly and accurately, something this gun has refused to do with smaller PB diameters. Was the experiment a success? It was a partial success because the accuracy and the minor fouling were an all time best for this gun with PB bullets. It was a partial failure because the barrel was not as clean as I would like to see it. The fact that one side of the barrel was clean while the other side was fouled, a pattern that followed the rifling twist from breech to muzzle, suggests that the chambers are not lining up with the barrel perfectly, a common problem on mass-produced wheelguns. It’s worth repeating the experiment, perhaps with Rooster lube or with deeper lube grooves. This gun will average 3″ at 50 yards with a pet 0.432″ GC load, if I practice a lot, so 3″ at 50 yards will be my yardstick for success.
Rem 30-06 with Teflon taped bullets 55.3 gr. IMR4350, 205 gr. bullet, Quickload predicted 2610 fps, 57900 psi. Actual velocity 2550 fps, 54 ES. Average group at 100 yards 7.6″. These started out as conventional 0.311″ GC, then wrapped with about 3 layers of teflon, then sized 0.309″. The sizing process pushed most of the teflon into the lube grooves, leaving the bands exposed, though no two bullets were exposed to the same degree. The alloy was wheelweight that had been heat treated one year ago, so it was probably 20 – 25 BHN, though I didn’t measure it. After 9 shots, the muzzle had a light grey wash, pretty much what you would normally see with conventional lubed bullets, no better or worse.
Rem 30-06 with raggedy-ass paper patched bullets, same bullet, and load data as above except with paper instead of teflon. As with the teflon bullets, the sizing process tore off some of the paper, pushing it into the lube grooves and leaving the bands exposed, with quite a bit of variation from bullet to bullet. A few bullets retained all the paper, while others were mostly bare, and some were bare on one side of the bullet but not the other. It seemed unlikely to work, but inquiring minds want to know. After 9 rounds, the muzzle was perfectly black with no significant leading. Average velocity was 2553 fps, 52 ES. Average group at 100 yards was 4.1″, with three bullets in 1/2″.
Rem 30-06 with proper paper patch 58.5 gr. IMR4350, 165 gr.. Quickload predicted 2950 fps, 64140 psi. The actual velocity was 2723 fps, 64 ES. This started out as a 0.311″ GC bullet that was sized to 0.302″, then patched properly, dipped in Rooster Jacket, and dusted with mica. The resulting diameter was about 0.313″ – 0.314″ and it was not sized again. Alloy was air-cooled WW, perhaps too soft for a high velocity load but inquiring minds want to know. The average 5-shot group at 100 yards was 7.7″, and the worst flyer was definitely tipping a bit. The muzzle was clean and black after 15 shots.
Conclusions about patched 30-06 loads What I found interesting about these experiments is that the patched bullets performed almost exactly like their lubed counterparts, minus the fouling. Flashback a couple of years when I was playing with the lubed version of the 165 gr. bullet — it was usually 200 fps slower than expected, just like the PP version, and shooting patterns instead of groups with a max load, just like the PP version. The only difference is, now I can’t blame it on lead fouling. The lubed version of the 200 gr. bullet flew about 50 fps slower than expected and grouped about 4″, just like its PP cousin. Today’s experiments were not successful in terms of accuracy, but it’s given me another clue about this mystery of high velocity cast. Now, if I could only figure out what the clue means!