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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I pulled the bullets from 2 different lots of 338 ME factory loads and weighed the components. I found a VERY significant difference.

I had 2 different lots. 3091331 and 3110213.

3091331:

Powder - 49.0 gr.
Bullet - 200.0 gr
Case w/primer - 199.0 gr.

3110213:

Powder - 51.2 gr (Wow!)
Bullet - 199.9 gr
Case w/primer - 204.5

This is a significant difference, and I suppose could account for the over 200 fps in velocity, and why I kept saying the recoil was so moderate. I had been shooting the rounds from the 3091331 lot.

What do you all think about this? I'm wondering if I should call Hornady. I have been shooting the 3091331 lot and it chronographed at around 2400 fps, significantly slower than Hornady publishes. This powder difference could be the reason. There also seems to be a difference in the cases of about 5.5 gr.

Also, visually, the powder looks identical.
 

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Hal: the wight that I showed for the case in the other thread 197.5 was w/o a primer. I just weighted one also from lot 3110213 and with the primer I get 205.7 grains. Is your 204.5 from the same lot or from the older slower lot?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
2shotal said:
Hal: the wight that I showed for the case in the other thread 197.5 was w/o a primer. I just weighted one also from lot 3110213 and with the primer I get 205.7 grains. Is your 204.5 from the same lot or from the older slower lot?
Same lot.
 

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The powder weight difference could be just the normal variance between powder lots. Remember the factories don't use uniform canister grade powder that we buy. They buy in huge lots and work up their loads to pressure/velocity standards. I don't know how close the factories monitor their case weights. Maybe they beefed up the brass so they could slightly increase pressure and velocity. I haven't run the chrony on any of my .338 ammo yet. My factory 338 MX is Lot#3100005, and I haven't weighed the brass yet. One thing I have noticed with my MXLR that I am getting some case stretching. After 2 reloads my cases have stretched to 1.891 to 1.892.

Gary
 

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In reality handloaders should Work up loads each time they open a new can of powder. I don't know any one who does but I would bet if we did we would a variance like Hal found. I would still call Hornady.
 

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I'm thinkin the same thing as Gary, different powder mix. Change in case weight is interesting, that would reduce the case capacity as well, making the charge weight increase even more significant. Yep, Wait to see what Hornady says. Hal, are you gonna run some of the heavier charges accross the Chrony first to check the speed? DP
 

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Somebody mentioned my 338ME ammo Lot#3100005
I fired 30 rounds last weekend and have NOT cleaned or de-primed the cases yet.
They weigh from 198.3 to 204.5, sorry didn't keep track for an average.

-chris
 

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I don't have the experience you guys have at reloading but that does seem to be a significant difference. You probably should call Hornady and at least see what they say.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
M700 said:
Those look like very normal lot-to-lot variations for factory ammo.
And you know this, how? I'd like folks to post differences they have found in factory ammo. This is the first factory ammo I have actually purchased and used on deer since the 70's. It seems excessive to me, and I doubt that it is normal variation, although I'm sure Hornady will pass it off as such. Over 2 grains is a lot.
 

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big medicine said:
In reality handloaders should Work up loads each time they open a new can of powder. I don't know any one who does but I would bet if we did we would a variance like Hal found. I would still call Hornady.
I am vindicated and I defy you to find that sort of mistake in my handloading bro. The Hornady problems with their factory stuff cannot be sugar coated. It just pays to check.

Dave 8)
 

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Three_oh_8MX said:
Somebody mentioned my 338ME ammo Lot#3100005
I fired 30 rounds last weekend and have NOT cleaned or de-primed the cases yet.
They weigh from 198.3 to 204.5, sorry didn't keep track for an average.

-chris
Chris,

Just weighing cases or even loaded cartridges cannot tell you much of anything, but weighing the powder and checking the COAL will do just that.

Dave 8)
 

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Halwg said:
And you know this, how? I'd like folks to post differences they have found in factory ammo. This is the first factory ammo I have actually purchased and used on deer since the 70's. It seems excessive to me, and I doubt that it is normal variation, although I'm sure Hornady will pass it off as such. Over 2 grains is a lot.
Hal,

You stick to your guns bro. How come we don't hear of these problems with other Mfgr's powders? Hmmmmm

I just think it pays to err on the side of caution each and every time.

Dave 8)

p.s. Good luck with calling Hornady. Of course they might send you some more ammo... for an exchange. ::) After all YOUR rifle did not seize up, blow out the primer and almost weld the case head to the bolt like mine did. Not bitter here, just have had the experience with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My inquiry is into Hornady. I'll let you know if they answer me.
 

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Hal,
Although l've shot my 338 a fair amount l've yet to fire a factory cartridge in it , so don't have any of any lot # to pull and send info to you . Will try to remedy that if l go to a town this or next week and will pull and let you know results. If you think about this you probably need to run a few 3110213 over the screens and then if a Hornady rep tells you that it's tested then loaded according to those results you'll have a great argument or justification in their resulting loads
Either way l want to know and will send you my results when l get them
 

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I also sent my reply/query to Hornady last night, and asked them if based on our new/additional research, and given that the extra 2+ grains of powder can affect bullet seating, if they still are of the opinion that it is OK to shoot them as long as the crimp is in the cannelure.
 

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I cannot speak to Hornady loads, but in the past I have tried to duplicate factory loads for friends and in my experience there is a concerning amount of variation in powder charges. In year's past factories would tell you what powder, bullet, & primers they would use. Given so much variability in powder weights I did not feel comfortable trying to duplicate factory load unless I stayed with the lowest measured powder weight. Anal retentive handoader like myself can develop much better loads than the factory because we can take the time to weigh each case, bullet and and powder chage. I persnally feel a 2 grain difference is significant.
 

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VTDW said:
Chris,

Just weighing cases or even loaded cartridges cannot tell you much of anything, but weighing the powder and checking the COAL will do just that.

Dave 8)
I know Dave, I was just throwing them the info I had.
I'm not ready to pull any factory ammo apart yet as I don't have dies YET and couldn't put them back together.
I also don't have a comparitor(sp?) to check the length. I don't think using that pointy flex tip to measure off of is that accurate.

-chris
 

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Hmm

I've shot ammo from 3 or 4 different lots. All of them hit in the same spot, had the same spread and pretty much the same recoil.

Didn't weigh them ahead of time but just thought I'd add this bit of info. Will look up the exact lot numbers later as I keep the boxes to use later once I start reloading.
 

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I got Hornady's response. I'll list the email from oldest to the newest:

MY FIRST EMAIL TO THEM:

Two weeks ago I purchased 4 boxes of Hornady 338MX from Trophy Outdoors. The lot # on all 4 boxes is 3110213. I've mesure the length of about 40 rounds and the length of the rounds is all over the map i.e., longest = 2.596 and the shortest = 2.574. Your specs call for 2.585. Is it safe for me to shoot these rounds, or should you exchange them? Please advise. Thank you.

THEIR RESPONSE:

Al, thanks for the inquiry. As long as your loaded rounds are crimped in the cannelure, they are safe to fire. Thank you!

MY LAST SUNDAY'S EMAIL TO THEM:

Thank you for your response. I now have additional information that you may find interesting. I have compared Chrony speed tests as well as powder weight in your NIB factory ammunition with other shooters, and we are finding the following:

Your new factory ammunition lot # 3091331 case powder weight is 49.0 grains …… your new factory ammunition lot # 3110213 (one below I originally asked the question) case powder weight is 51.2 – 51.3 grains (the difference is different testers have different boxes of the same lot).

When I removed the bullet from your factory ammunition lot # 3110213, the powder was completely compressed to the point I had to use a toothpick to loosen some of it so that it would come out of the case. When it did, I noticed a few small clumps of powder that looked like wet, which of course they were not.

We understand that you buy powder in huge lots, that when buying in bulk the grain can have different Volume Measure Density (WMD) and that you work up your loads to pressure/velocity standards. Bar a major difference in WMD, a 2.2 or 2.3 grain difference can and probably will make a difference on how the bullet will seat. How deep the bullet seats dictates how compressed the powder will be, and how compressed the powder is could have negative implications regarding pressure.

Please understand that my original question had to do with your brand new factory loads NOT with re-loads. Now, with this new information, do you still feel that “as long as the rounds are crimped in the cannelure, they are safe to shoot”?

Again, I appreciate and thank you for taking the time to look into this issue.

TODAY'S RESPONSE FROM THEM:

You will see a little variation in cartridge over all length when loading on the automatic machines. Looking
at the lot data I don't see any thing that would make me think that this lot has a problem. The lot is the current lot.
The powder being compacted could be making the COL very a little. But as long as the crimp is holding the bullet it will be fine.
If you feel that the ammo would not shoot as it should you can return it and we will replace it when we have a new lot of ammo. Let me know and I will give you a return number.

So according to Hornady, everything is fine and it is OK to continue to shoot from this 'current' lot. Based on how sticky it got to extract and the soreness of my shoulder, IMO, these rounds are a little too much on the HOT side. I'll shoot them, but I'll be checking every 3-4 rounds.
 
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