Blue Dot + 500 Linebaugh

Cartridge: 500 Linebaugh

Firearm: Converted Ruger Blackhawk, 7.5″ Mag-na-ported Barrel

Powder: Blue Dot 18.0 grains, individually weighted

Bullet: 420gr Hunter’s Supply

Primer: CCI 350 Large Pistol Magnum

LabRadar series: 82

Shooting Record: 4/12/2017 @ Sunnyvale Rod & Gun

Velocity: 1180 fps average (7 shots)

Spread: 1193 – 1171 = 22fps

Std Dev: 7 fps (7 shots)

Drag Coefficient: -1.56 fps/yard over first 60 yards

Notes: Taffin Test data shows 18-20 grains of Blue Dot for “LBT #512.440 LFN (445 Grains)” with 18 grains giving “1037fps from a 5 1/2″ barrel.”

A LOT of recoil, but noticeably less than 525grain @ 980fps load. Lot of smoke. Low flash. I had poor accuracy, but I attribute it to poor control — I hadn’t shot this big of a bore in a while, and the smoke made it difficult to see POI corrections. No signal on bullet pull — I single loaded.

Primers were starting to look flat. No unburned powder. I am not comfortable increasing this charge without more data, and recommend starting lower.


TrailBoss + 500 Linebaugh

Cartridge: 500 Linebaugh

Firearm: Converted Ruger Blackhawk, 7.5″ Mag-na-ported Barrel

Brass: Starline

Primer: Winchester Large Pistol (WLP). It is gold colored, which helps identify light loads.

Most of these weights are based around Lee Dipper sizes, because it’s faster to use a dipper than to setup a fancier measure. The high bulk of Trail Boss makes me feel comfortable with the less precise dippers, because variations in volume don’t matter as much.

Good Everyday Load

Bullet: 420gr Hunter’s Supply

Powder: Trail Boss 2.2cc Lee dipper ≈ 9.4grains ± 0.2

Primer: Winchester WLP

LabRadar series: 81

Shooting Record: 5 shots, 4/11/2017 @ Sunnyvale Rod & Gun, between 8 and 9 PM

Velocity: 768 fps

Spread: 778.6 – 757.4 = 21 fps

StdDev: 8.12fps (5x)

Drag Coefficient: -0.56 fps/yard over first 60 yards

Notes: Recoil was very controllable, no pain at all, I could make 100 yard hits repeatably. Winchester WLP primer helps identify light loads.

Although very slow, 420 grains × 768 feet per second = 240 grains × 1,344 feet per second, which approximates 44 magnum factory ammunition. And there was much less muzzle blast than with a 44 magnum. I was fortunate enough to be able to setup my chronograph at the 100 yard steel, and the LabRadar indicates that velocity-loss was very good for a pistol – order of 1 fps lost for 6 feet of travel.


I only got data to 60 yards. But extrapolating to 100 yards, the slug would still be moving at about 710fps — still a “Power Factor” of ~300. With such low drag, it should hit harder than the hypothetical 44 magnum at distance!

Cheap Plinker

I had good luck by taking Missuri Bullet Co .54 Roundball (actually .528″ diameter, advertised Brinell hardness 5, actual weight 220 grains) running them through a .5115″ sizer, charging cases with a a 1.9cc dipper of Trail Boss (about 9.8±0.2 grains), putting in a fiber wad, seating the sized-ball lightly and heavily crimping to hold it in place. I used Win WLP primers as with all my light Linebaugh loads.

LabRadar series: 154 (Steel target at 25 yards)

Velocity: 822 fps (789, 854, 773, 790, 889, 811, 857, 814)

Spread: 116 = 889-773 fps

StdDev: 40.38fps (8x)

Drag Coefficient: -2.3 fps/yard at 811fps

Notes: Very smelly. Smokey and dirty. Not match-grade accuracy, but they made a well-defined group on steel at 25 yards (I’d estimate 6-10″ couldn’t measure or get a good picture before closing time). Certainly good enough accuracy to show a flinch, and only $0.14 each!

Update: On paper these actually made one-hole groups at indoor-range distances, and matched the point-of-aim for fast ~400 grain slugs.

The round ball shape has a lot of drag.

Ultimate Bullseye Load

I highly recommend Fury Custom Bullets. It’s a one man shop that lives up to it’s credo: “I MAKE THE BULLETS YOU WANT BUT CANT BUY“. I was able to get 300 grain swaged wadcutters, knurled (to hold tumble-lube and bump the size up to .512”) and gas checked. And at a very good price!

With The LEE plastic dippers, seating totally flush with the case mouth, and taper crimping lightly (500 S&W taper crimp die). I got:

TrailBoss (Lee Dipper) Velocity ES Std Dev LabRadar
1.9cc 741 fps (772, 760, 733, 752, 724, 708) 64 = 772 – 708 24.05 fps (6x) S155
2.2cc 823 fps (833, 812, 851, 844, 797, 801) 54 = 851-797 22.73 fps (6x) S160

Drag Coefficient: -2.7 fps/yard at 700fps

LabRadar series: 155. Steel target at 25 yards, last shot missed (100 yard backstop but data implies hitting the ground at ~51 yards)

LabRadar series: 160. Indoors, paper target at 25 yards; 1st shot close.

Notes: Leaves large clean-cut holes in paper. They can be a real advantage in some rules. Recoil is very heavy for a bullseye load, but no pain without gloves. I have not yet figured out a consistent charge. I’ve had better groups with the “plinker” round-ball loads — I do not know if this is a problem with the gas-checks, my loading technique, or how I handle the recoil. I’ll keep experimenting, but I blame the shooter (me). People are usually the weakest link, and are always the most variable. I’m starting to suspect the extra 0.06″ in diameter over a 45 Colt/ACP wadcutter isn’t worth the extra jitter from recoil.

Blue Dot + 45 Colt

Bottom line: 👎 in this caliber. There are more consistent powders for moderate 45 Colt loads. There are safer powders for heavy loads. I’ll finish the rest of the canister in 500 Linebaugh or 45 ACP.

Cartridge: 45 Colt

Firearm: Ruger Blackhawk, 5.5″ Barrel

Powder: Blue Dot 13gr±0.5 (high variation from using rifle-insert in measure)

Bullet:260gr Lyman #454424 from Matt’s Bullets

Primer: Rem 2½ Large Pistol

LabRadar series: S61

Shooting Record: 2017-03-07, evening, approx 55 Fahrenheit, 12 shots

Velocity (12 shots): Average 1060fps, ES 1087-1015=72fps, StdDev 22.4fps

Notes: stiff recoil — not pleasant, but not yet painful with gloves on. Lots of smoke.

Charge was max for 14kPSI with 260 grain jacketed per Alliant data. Note that charge is above max (by 0.1 grain) for 250gr Lead SWC in Speer #12. Assume it is +P and unsafe, until proven otherwise. QuickLOAD predicts 921fps @ 13.7kPSI. But clearly we got more than that, so something’s up! I tried estimating the pressure by increasing the powder charge in QuickLOAD until I got a velocity of 1060fps, which happened at an estimated 19kPSI.

Bullet: 230 grain “Softball!” (actually Brinell 18) Hi-Tek coated from Missouri Bullet Co

LabRadar series: S62

Other details identical as “S61” above.

Velocity (6 shots): Average 1053fps, ES 1086 – 1023 = 63fps, StdDev 22.3fps

Notes: Recoil was noticeably less than 260 grain load, much much less smoke.

Brass: Starline 1x fired

Primer: Rem 2½ Large Pistol

Powder: Blue Dot 12.9gr (Indv. Weighed)

Bullet: 250gr Lead SWC (Speer #4684)

Crimp: Lee Factory Crimp (moderate)

LabRadar Series: 86

Velocity: 1028 nominal, 1019 actual. ES 1043 – 996 = 47fps, StdDev 14.8fps (13 shots)

Notes: Speer LSWC Bullets are very consistent, ±1 grain or less. Charge is maximum in Speer #12. I took my time weighing each charge, so I could test if Blue Dot is a consistent powder — since my early loads above might have just shown inconsistent powder-measuring + variability in casting.

Die Adjustment Cheat Sheet

1/TPI = vertical distance traveled (inches) in one turn. Always round that number up, so you seat too shallow. It’s easier to add more turns than to pull the bullet and start over.

Standard dies are 7/8-14 = 1/14″ per turn 0.01″ per 1/8 turn is a healthy over-estimate.

Lee seater stems: use +0.015″ per 1/4 turn to estimate. Actual number is 18TPI and closer to 0.1388…89″.

Redding 3BR Pistol Insert

Whole numbers probably represent 0.01″ (0.254mm) of micrometer travel. Micrometer spindle hole is approx. 0.314(5)” when measured with calipers. A .312 (Likely 5/16″) insert enters hole. 8mm = 0.314961″ is a working metric approximation for the hole’s diameter.

The empirically-derived models I have for predicting a needed setting with a new powder are:

grains = insert_number * 0.0115 * VMD ^ -1.039 + 0.29.

insert_number = (grains – 0.29) / (0.0115 * VMD ^ -1.039)

grains = insert_number * (0.2627 – 1.249*VMD) + 0.29

insert_number = (grains – 0.29)/(0.2627 – 1.249*VMD)

I still haven’t tried them with a new powder.