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Hercules offers new powders: all in the Weatherby jugs.

Hercules Offers New Powders: All In The Weatherby Jugs

During the last couple years, Hercules has introduced a line of new rifle powders under the "Reloder (R)" banner. The numbers include Reloder 12, Reloder 15, Reloder 19, and Reloder 22. The higher the number goes, the slower the burning rate of the powder.

Along with these powders, the company also distributed free booklets with ample data for most of the popular cartridges except the Weatherby magnums. The booklet, of course, is Hercules' "Reloaders' Guide for Hercules Smokeless Powders", and practically anyone who deals in Hercules powders can obtain them.

And toward the end of 1988, the people at Hercules' ballistics lab ran presure/velocity trials with the four most popular Weatherby cartridges to fill the gap. Thus, if you have customers who are waiting to hear data for their Weatherbys, the time has come. I have before me some results directly from Mr. John C. Delaney, chief ballistician and manager of customer services for Hercules. This data will be printed in the forthcoming Hercules 1989 "Guide" for further reference and distribution. I merely thought I'd print some here and make a few points as we go along.

First of all, the obvious selections for the Weatherby jugs are the slowest rate Reloder propellants, namely, Reloder 19 and Reloder 22. Cases like the .270 Weatherby Magnum, 7mm Weatherby Magnum, .300 Weatherby Magnum, and .340 Weatherby Magnum are spacious hulls that need massive powder charges to provide the pressures needed for magnum velocities. Those instances when the faster-rate powders are employed, such as when Reloder 15 is used, tend to produce velocities while still running maximum chamber pressures. Too, the faster-rate powders leave more air space in the load, and I have never been happy with that situation.

Secondly, only one primer has been developed specifically for the Weatherby magnums, the Federal 215, and it was used for all the following data. A robust primer such as the Federal 215 has a longer burn to enhance chamber heat for the correct ignition and combustion, and in instances where there is some air space the F-215 is definitely recommended for the following reloads.

When Hercules ran tests that came up with the following information, they did so with 26-inch test barrels using a variety of bullets that I'll specify. The overall loaded cartridge length should be noted, because it can be a pressure factor: the deeper a bullet is set into a hull, the higher can be the pressures because the bullet's base takes up space into which the powder gases can't expand; conversely, the farther out a bullet is seated, the more expansion room the early powder gases have and the lower chamber pressures will be (for any given powder charge). Since there have been some different throating configurations for the Weatherby cartridges, the below data must be matched with reloads having the stated O.A.L. Increasing or decreasing the O.A.L. can influence pressures accordingly.

One problem bumped into by Hercules in working up Weatherby data was that, because the Weatherby rounds were never commercially loaded stateside, there were no SAMMI standards. (Remington is now loading the .300 Weatherby Magnum, and there will almost certainly by SAMMI standards coming along shortly for that one, perhaps leading the industry into setting stateside standards for the other Weatherby stuff as well.) Hitherto, Weatherby ammo had been loaded only by Norma of Sweden, and my data from them sets a chamber pressure of 55,100 c.u.p. as the maximum average working pressure. That, of course, is quite stiff.

When Hercules set their own current standards for reload development, Delaney tells me they did so in this manner: "We fired factory ammunition, added a safety factor and set our own pressure limits. Velocities are as measured from a 26-inch test barrel at 15 feet from the muzzle. This conforms to Weatherby's request on barrel length and to SAMMI standards for velocity measurement." After reading the Hercules data sheet, it becomes apparent that they have opted for a more conservative maximum average working chamber pressure of 53,500 - 54,000 c.u.p., which is in keeping with some Yankee hotshot belted magnums.

One final point I must make before launching into the data review is that, up until just a couple years ago, Weatherby (Norma) brass was relatively soft and began to show pressure signs early as handloaders worked up. More recently, Weatherby brass has been toughened and tends to show pressure signs less rapidly. to my knowledge, there are no identifying marks to separate the former softer brass from the newer hard stuff. Thus, if your customers suddenly find an obviously quick rise in case pressure signs as they work up reloads, suspect the brass as being from the older lots and suggest a change to the harder, more recent rounds.

I'll report below the maximum charges as provided to me by Hercules. Reloaders might wish to start lower and work up. I'd suggest maybe a 1-1/2 - 2-grain reduction at the most, as cutting charges leaves air space which I hate in sizable cases.

New Load Data

The .270 Weatherby Magnum isn't making headlines these days, but those who hunt with it love it for its flat trajectory and high-intensity shock. Beginning with the 100-grain Speer spitzer as a potential varmint round, the .270 Weatherby can reach 3,755 f.p.s.(53,400 c.u.p.) with 76.8/RL-19 and 3,775 f.p.s.(53,000 c.u.p.) with 79.0/RL-22. Both loads have an O.A.L. of 3.160 inches.

For big game of the thin-skinned species, the .270 Weatherby moves the 130-grain Speer spitzer to 3,340 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) with 70.5/RL-19 or about 3,400 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) using 73.8/ RL-22. The O.A.L. is 3.260 inches.

The 140-grain bullet is gaining more acclaim, and the Sierra 140 spitzer boattail in the .270 Weatherby Magnum can reach 3,240 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) ahead of 68.1/RL-19 or 3,280 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) with 71.0/RL-22 and a 3.275-inch O.A.L.

With the heavier 150-grain bullets loaded to an O.A.L. of 3.285 inches, it became apparent that the Nosler Partition could use a bit more powder than the Sierra 150 spitzer BT. For example, the 150 Nosler Partition did 3,090 f.p.s. (53,200 c.u.p.) with 64.8/RL-19 and 3,180 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) with 69.7/RL-22, while the 150 Sierra SBT averaged slightly less at 3,075 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) with 64.4/RL-19 or 3,145 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) using 68.8/RL-22. One would guess that the Nosler Partitions offered less "engraving" resistance, thus permitting a tad of extra powder for a bit of added speed. But more remains to be learned about these different bullet characteristics.

The 7mm Weatherby has been outsold by the 7mm remington Magnum, but the Weatherby round is extremely versatile. Beginning with the 120-grain Hornady SP loaded to 3.200 inches, it can be driven to 3,505 f.p.s. by 74.0/RL-19 for a chamber pressure of 52,100 c.u.p. The 139-grain Hornady SP at an O.A.L. of 3.280 inches does 3,315 f.p.s. (52,500 c.u.p.) with 70.9/RL-19 or 3,355 f.p.s. (52,300 c.u.p.) with 74.8/RL-22.

The main difference between the 7mm and the .270s is that the 7mm can fling aerodynamically efficient 160-175 grainers at higher speeds than the .270s. In this case, the 7mm Weatherby generates 3,045 f.p.s. (52,300 c.u.p.) using 64.8/ RL-19 or 3,110 f.p.s. using 70.7/RL-22 (52,500 c.u.p.) with the 160-grain Sierra spitzer BT at an overall loaded length of 3.240 inches. Moving up to the 175-grain Sierra SBT, we get 2,850 f.p.s. (52,200 c.u.p.) for 60.5/RL-19 and a sparkling 2,965 f.p.s. (52,500 c.u.p.) from 67.4/RL-22. The 175s were given an O.A.L. of 3.245 inches.

The big .300 Weatherby Magnum absorbs lots of powder, but according to Hercules data the slow-rate Reloders can run with some of the best of the other fuels in this brass canister. The 150-grain Hornady SP loaded to 3.540 inches reaches an average of 3,375 f.p.s. (52,500 c.u.p.) ahead of 82.5/RL-19 or a sprightly 3,460 f.p.s. (53,300 c.u.p.) with 88.0/RL-22. That's a flat-shooting 150-grain reload!

The 165-grain bullet is coming on as an all-around selection, and in the 9300 Weatherby Magnum the Speer 165 spitzer loaded to 3.510 inches skips out at 3,250 f.p.s. (53,200 c.u.p.) over 80.5/RL-19 and an impressive 3,305 f.p.s. (53,400 c.u.p.) over 85.0/RL-22. Shifting to the 180-grain Speer spitzer loaded to 3.530 inches, we find 3,070 f.p.s. (53,400 c.u.p.) possible with 76.5/RL-19, and a potent, flat-shooting 3,115 f.p.s. (53,300 c.u.p.) is recorded for 80.0/RL-22.

At this stage, and working from available data, it would seem to this writer that the Hercules powders are some of the most efficient fuels ever used in the .340 Weatherby Magnum. Coupled to this slightly larger 0.338-inch bore, they burn well and push like the devil within apparently sane chamber pressures. For instance, the 200-grain Hornady SP seated for an O.A.L. of 3.660 inches is reported at 3,095 f.p.s. (53,300 c.u.p.) over 85.0/RL-19 and a still heftier 3,170 f.p.s. (53,200 c.u.p.) over 91.0/RL-22!

The 210-grain Nosler Partition, a favored hunting bullet in this caliber, was reported by Hercules at 3,075 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) with 84.3/RL-19 and a surprising 3,135 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) with 89.2/RL-22! That's really pushing a 210 grainer, and what a flat-shooting elk load it would make! The O.A.L. is at 3.595 inches.

With the 220-grain Hornady SP, the .340 Weatherby was clocked at 2,995 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) with 83.7/RL-19 and 3,035 f.p.s. (53,400 c.u.p.) with 88.0/RL-22.

Finally, the thundering 250-grain Hornady RN seated for 3.665 inches bolts from the .340 Weatherby Magnum at 2,865 f.p.s. (53,500 c.u.p.) using 80.7/RL-19 and 2,885 f.p.s. (53,300 c.u.p.) using 84.7/RL-22.


All things considered, then, the initial Hercules data indicates impressive results from Reloders 19 and 22 in the most popular Weatherby magnums. I venture that they'll be similar in the other jugs, namely, the .378 and .460. The .257 Weatherby may not be good with the powders in question, as it is of an overbore capacity and, for optimum results, needs bulky, ultra-slow-rate powders. Reloder 22 is slow, but not quite that slow.
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Title Annotation:ammunition
Author:Zutz, Don
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Feb 1, 1989
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